Optometric Residency Programs
What Is a Residency?
A residency is a one year programs designed for optometrists who have just graduated. A residency allows the doctor to gain specialized skills and information in a specific area of Optometry. Currently, there are over 300 residency programs affiliated with schools or colleges of optometry.
Why Should I Do a Residency?
The clinical experience and level of confidence one develops is tremendous. Career opportunities are also enhanced - teaching institutions, hospitals, and co-management clinics are looking for advanced training. Regardless, most graduates find it to be a rewarding experience.
What Is the Length of the Training Program and How Much Does the Residency Program Pay?
Optometric residency programs typically run for one year from the first of July to June 30. Stipends vary depending on the institution funding the program. For programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the stipend is currently $30,900, and some non-VA programs pay as much as $35,000 plus benefits. Some programs also provide health benefits (reimbursement up to $1,000) and travel benefits to national meetings (up to $500).
Can I Defer My Student Loans While Completing Residency Training?
As of July 2009, students participating in a residency program are not allowed to defer their loans during their extra year of study. There are several options students have in loan repayment:
- Deferments were replaced by the Income-Based Plan which caps monthly payments based on a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income (normally < 10% of gross income). Interest rates are still accrued during the time of a residency.
- Extended Repayment Plan.
- Forbearance which lets you suspend or reduce your student loan payments under certain circumstances and for specified periods of up to one year at a time. Unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized.
It is the responsibility of the resident to secure and complete the necessary forms, which are available from the providing financial institutions.
How Can I Find Out More Information About the Residency Programs That Are Available?
Contact the Director of Residencies at each of the schools and colleges of optometry for information regarding their programs. The following web sites should also be used to obtain more information.
Note: The Board of Directors of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) is pleased to announce it has established ORMatch, the new Optometry Residency Match. ORMatch replaces the Optometry Residency Matching Service (ORMS) and will launch in October 2012. For more information and to read the official press release, click here.
- Optometric Residency Matching Services, Inc. (ORMS)
- Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO)
- The American Optometric Association's Resident's Guide to Resources in Research and Scholarship
The most important thing is to talk to people who are either currently in or who have recently completed their residency (residency directors can put students in touch with some of these individuals). They can provide details about programs and the people there. They also give insight into other important items, such as housing, cost or living, etc. So, start gathering information now. Go to the residency room at the AOSA or AAO meetings. Program directors are there with lots of information, who are willing to help, offer advice, or direct you to someone who can.