BVAMC Optometry Residency Program - Birmingham, Alabama VA Health Care System
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Birmingham, Alabama VA Health Care System

 

BVAMC Optometry Residency Program

Birmingham VAMC Optometry Residency Program

Residency in Vision Rehabilitation with emphasis in Low Vision Rehabilitation and Ocular Disease (2 Positions)

Affiliation: The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

The Residency in Vision Rehabilitation with emphasis in Low Vision Rehabilitation and Ocular Disease at the Birmingham VA Medical Center is a 52-week post-graduate clinical education program that currently offers two 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 Vision Rehabilitation (formerly known as the Residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitative Optometry) at the Birmingham VA 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. 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 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 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 20-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 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 the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO).

Please click here for a detailed program description: Birmingham VA Medical Center Optometry Residency

2020-2021 Residents: Caitlyn Williams, O.D., M.P.H. and Abigail Donigian, O.D.

 2020-2021 Residents: Caitlyn Williams, O.D., M.P.H. and Abigail Donigian, O.D.

 Birmingham VA Optometry Staff:  

Bethany S. Martinez, O.D., M.S., Director of Low Vision Optometry
Bethany S. Martinez, O.D., M.S., Director of Low Vision Optometry, has served as Residency Program Supervisor since June 2013. She received her Doctor of Optometry from The Ohio State University College of Optometry in 2004 and her residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitation Optometry at the Birmingham VAMC in 2005. Following her residency, Dr. Martinez completed her M.S. in Vision Science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Optometry Research Fellowship at the Birmingham VAMC in 2007. She served as a clinical instructor at UAB School of Optometry and Low Vision Optometrist at the UAB Center for Low Vision on a part-time basis during graduate school. In September 2007, Dr. Martinez joined the staff of the Birmingham VAMC full-time, working at the Bessemer VA outpatient clinic until 2013.  She is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UABSO.


Marsha Snow, O.D., Chief of Optometry
Marsha Snow, O.D., Chief of Optometry, Birmingham VAMC since 2013.  She received her Doctor of Optometry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2000.  She completed her residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitation Optometry at the Birmingham VAMC in 2001. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor at UABSO.  Prior to becoming the Chief, Dr. Snow was an Associate Professor at the UAB School of Optometry for twelve years.  She was the Chief of Low Vision Patient services, course master of the Clinical Low Vision Rehabilitation and Diseases of the Anterior Segment didactic courses.  She taught and saw patients in various clinics, including the Ocular Disease/Low Vision service, Primary Care service, and at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Ocular Disease/Low Vision service in Talladega, Alabama.  Additionally, she was the Co-Director of the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation at the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital.

 

Thomas Alex Keith, O.D., M.S.
Thomas Alex Keith, O.D., M.S. is a Staff Optometrist at the Birmingham VAMC since November 2012. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2010. He completed a residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitation Optometry at the Birmingham VAMC in 2010. Following his residency, Dr. Keith completed a M.S. in Vision Science at UAB and an Optometry Research Fellowship at the Birmingham VA in 2012. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UABSO.

Eric Tidmore, O.D., Staff Optometrist

Eric Tidmore, O.D., is a Staff Optometrist at the Birmingham VAMC since December 2002. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2000. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UABSO. He completed a residency at the Tuscaloosa VAMC, affiliated with UABSO. Dr. Tidmore serves a preceptor to optometry residents and externs.

Megan C. Mills, O.D., Staff Optometrist

Megan C. Mills, O.D., is a Staff Optometrist at the Birmingham VAMC since October 2013. She received her Doctor of    Optometry degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2012.  She completed a residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitation Optometry at the Birmingham VAMC in 2013.  She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UABSO. Dr. Mills became the Director of the Extern Program at the BVAMC in 08/2019.

Elizabeth Perkins, O.D., Staff Optometrist  

Elizabeth Perkins, O.D. is a Staff Optometrist at the Birmingham VAMC since November 2014. She received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2008. She worked in private practice for 4 years and then completed a residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitation Optometry at the Birmingham VAMC in 2013. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UABSO.

Lynne S. Stevens, O.D., Staff Optometrist

Lynne S. Stevens, O.D., Staff Optometrist, Birmingham VAMC since 2014.  She received her Doctor of Optometry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in 2008.  Dr. Stevens completed her residency in Geriatric and Low Vision Rehabilitation Optometry at the Birmingham VAMC in 2009. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at UABSO.  She completed the Advanced Competence in Medical Optometry in 2017.  Prior to the VA, she has worked in private optometry and ophthalmology practices and also worked at the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation at the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital.

 

Crystal H. Maharrey, O.D., M.P. H. Staff Optometrist 

Crystal H. Maharrey, O.D., M.P.H., began her role as a Staff Optometrist at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in July 2019. She completed her doctorate degree at the UAB School of Optometry and her master’s degree at UAB School of Public Health. She completed a residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation and Geriatric Optometry at the Birmingham VA Medical Center in 2019. She also currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UAB School of Optometry with emphasis on Primary Eye Care and Community Eye Care.