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Birmingham, Alabama VA Medical Center


BVAMC Optometry Residency Program

BVAMC Optometry Residency Program Description

The Birmingham VA Medical Center
Optometry Residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitative Optometry
(3 Positions)
July 1st to June 30th
Affiliation: The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

The Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitative Optometry Residency at the Birmingham Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a 52-week post-graduate clinical education program that currently offers three positions. The optometry clinic at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center was established in 1971, becoming the first Department of Veterans Affairs academically affiliated optometry student program. The residency program in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitative Optometry at the Birmingham Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (BVAMC) was established in 1981. The first resident entered the program in 1982 and the program received its initial accreditation that year and has maintained accreditation to date. The program was so successful that with the help of our affiliate, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO), a second position was created in 1984, and a third position in 2008. The residency program was founded by Dr. Murray Fingeret, who served as clinic chief and residency supervisor until 1983, when Dr. Lyman Norden assumed oversight of the program as Optometry Section Chief. Steady program growth led to the creation of an Optometry Residency Program Director position in 2001, filled by former resident and full time staff optometrist, Dr. Patti Fuhr. Dr. Fuhr served as the Residency Supervisor until May 2013. The position is currently filled by former resident and research fellow, Dr. Bethany Martinez.  Dr. Martinez is a full-time VA employee with a faculty appointment of Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry. Her clinic and research specialty is Low Vision Rehabilitation. She is the Director of Low Vision Optometry and the primary Optometrist for the Blind Rehabilitation Center.

The optometry clinic has experienced significant growth through the years. We have grown from a clinic with a total of only 5 rooms, to a clinic which now contains 11 exam rooms and 7 special procedures rooms. Our annual patient encounters currently average approximately 14,000. This number of encounters affords each resident exposure to a variety of patients. The Optometry Low Vision Rehabilitation Clinic has grown from serving two patients per week to more than 300 outpatients per year. Patients with low vision are consulted from Visual Impairment Services Team Coordinators and eye clinics throughout the Alabama. Residents provide extensive low vision rehabilitation outpatient services to a wide variety of patients with visual impairments ranging from mild to profound. Resident rotations in the Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center (SBRC) afford the resident unparalleled opportunities to work with patients who suffer severe visual impairment. The SBRC is an exemplary multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary rehabilitation setting. The resident is responsible for primary eye and vision care of inpatients in the 24 bed rehabilitation program of the BRC, under the guidance of the attending O.D. The resident schedules each BRC patient appropriately for evaluations which include ocular health evaluation, low vision device evaluation, mid-term follow up evaluation, and discharge summary. When family members are able to visit the program, residents also provide family counseling and education with the legally-blind veteran’s significant others.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has also amended patient eligibility rules and its attitude toward delivering care which now emphasizes preventive health care. These changes have been very beneficial for the optometry clinic in that they have provided opportunities for continued growth and have increased opportunities for residents to interact with diverse and quality patient encounters.
Our academic affiliate is University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO).

For a detailed program description, please click here:/BIRMINGHAM/docs/BVAMCOPTRESIDENCY.DOCX