Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Doctor of Optometry
The eXtern Files
Although some of the student experiences shared on this page are from students that have graduated in 2010, we hope their information will give you insight into the benefits of our clinical externship program. We will be posting new student clinical experiences shortly.
If you have questions about our clinical program please contact the
The first preceptor fair was hosted by the Externship Program at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) was held on campus in early June. The event, sponsored by Alcon and ISTA Pharmaceuticals, had nearly 40 preceptors in attendance. Students from the Classes of 2013 and 2014 were invited to meet with potential preceptors and engage in a variety of essential activities throughout the day.
Dr. James Fanelli, ’85, was honored as the 2011-2012 PCO preceptor of the year for his dedication and exceptional teaching. Past externs of Dr. Fanelli have often recognized him for his ability to incorporate their studies into everyday clinical management of cases. A current PCO adjunct professor, Dr. Fanelli also runs a private practice in coastal North Carolina where he specializes in ocular disease management.
According to Dr. Maria Parisi, director of the Externship Program, students not only benefitted from the event, but many preceptors provided positive feedback on how beneficial it was for them to attend. Many preceptors also expressed how informative the day was and, although it took place on a Sunday, was well worth their time to come and meet potential externs.
According to PCO dean, Dr. Linda Casser, this fair was a substantive step forward in the commitment to continuous enhancement of the Externship Program. She would like to extend an enthusiastic thank you to all who helped because without their leadership, teamwork, collective time commitment and effort, the event would not have been possible.
Darryl E. Glover ’11
Optometry Externships: North Carolina
I go by the name of Darryl Glover (soon to be Dr. Glover) as I undergo my challenging last year of optometry school. North Carolina offers several premier and quality optometry sites and, for the last seven months, I have been completing my rotations here in my home state. NC is among the best states to practice in, due to the scope of practice offered. I found it great because I know I will practice here and I have made numerous connections...great networking. Additionally, I was close to home so I enjoyed time with my loved ones and it was easy to study in a familiar environment. I strongly recommend doing a rotation close to home if you are definitely sure that you will return to practice there.
Doctors’ Vision Center
My first site was at Doctor’s Vision Center in Wilmington. Wilmington is a small city located on the coast of North Carolina. Also known as DVC, this office offers three practices (for interns like myself to rotate among) located all over the Wilmington area. Each office offers a different demographic and style of practice.
The main office, Dr. Glendenning’s practice, is where I spent majority of my time. The Glendenning practice is an extremely fast paced and state of the art facility. The staff is exceptionally knowledgeable, friendly, and gregarious. The doctors treated us like we were professionals and took care of us as well. They even allowed us to tag along to local chapter meetings and took us to a couple UNCW basketball games.
A typical day at DVC involves diagnosing red eyes, dilating every patient, refractions, and fitting contacts. Throughout my experience I was able to see commotio retinae, hypema, vitreous hemorrhage, diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, epiretinal membranes, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers, infiltrates, and tons of other pathology. I learned a lot from DVC and the people were outstanding. I look forward to going back and visiting sometime in the near future.
Eyecare Associates, Raleigh, NC
Next up was my contact lens site at Eyecare Associates in my hometown Raleigh, North Carolina. I feel ECA is amongst the elite of optometry offices in North Carolina, with offices located throughout the Triangle area, Sandhills, Burlington and Wilmington. The office where I interned was the Cary location (Centrum) with Dr. Silver and Dr. Fuller. Their office moves with a sense of urgency to ensure all patients’ needs are met promptly and professionally.
ECA offers five exam lanes with a high end optical department and state of the art equipment. The staff is beyond impressive and super welcoming. Throughout my experience at ECA I learned everything I possibly could about contacts. Roughly 95% of the patients that I saw wore contacts, which gave me a significant amount of experience to fit contacts. ECA offers the latest technology in contacts and I fitted everything from soft lens to RGPs to piggy back lenses. Additionally, I fit numerous multifocal and monovision lenses. ECA offers a great learning facility and wonderful preceptors who have a wealth of knowledge. I highly recommend ECA for a contact lens site.
I found DVC and ECA both great practices in which I could apply the fundamentals I acquired from PCO. PCO offers a great foundation for optometry and the hands on experience in the different practices allowing me to gain a wealth of knowledge in just a few months was incredible. I look forward to my next site visit.
Postscript from Darryl: “I officially have my job lined up and can't wait to start.”
Tim Brown '10 and staff at
Dr. Lewis' office.
Timothy Brown ’10 OD
3rd Year Externship Experience
Whiteville, North Carolina
My externship site is located in Whiteville NC (Columbus County), which is about 25 minutes from my hometown of Loris SC (Horry County). Several of the patients whom I see at the office are people that I know so that is cool.
I have had the opportunity to see over 200 patients under my care - with Dr. John Lewis' supervision of course - and the experience with those patients has allowed me to see much pathology, have new learning experiences, and review several cases with Dr. Lewis and another 4th year intern from SCO, TN.
We have seen a few cases of corneal involvement due to herpes simplex virus; anterior polar cataracts’ severe age related macular degeneration; macular holes; macular scars; epiretinal membranes; severe glaucoma cases; diabetic retinopathy; hypertensive retinopathy; severe PRP scars; corneal abrasions due to trauma; diffused posterior cataracts and severe nuclear cataracts among other cases.
Editor: Tim and his wife, Sherita Seward Brown ’10 OD, were married in their first year and have since become parents to Tycianna. Both of them are very active in student life at the University and have served in leadership roles within some student organizations. Baby Tycianna is now a toddler and is often referred to as “The PCO Princess,” because she has attended more student events than many of her parents’ classmates. Tim was asked to add an update about the family to his externship piece:
As full time optometry students who are looking forward to graduation, Sherita and I have to balance our time and energy in order to provide care to our sweet Princess Tycianna while on our externships. We are at different sites for the first five months of our rotations, but Sherita and I will be together at the remaining three sites: VA Hospital, CL site, and TEI.
Sherita is doing a terrific job as a mother and wife. Tycianna is in daycare during the day and we spend time together as a family on most weekends (travel time: two hours). It is challenging at times, but thank God that we are continuing to do well. Tycianna will be 2 yrs old on May 20!
Timothy Brown ’10 OD
Sherita Seward Brown ’10OD
4th Year Externship Experience
2009 Summer Rotation
Our six month hospital/disease externship rotation has been at the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center in Columbia, SC. We were blessed to rotate to the site at the same time and that made our family experience with two children much better (one month old Tim II and two year old Tycianna).
Dorn Veterans Administration
We started at the VA for the 2009 summer hospital rotation and continue now in the fall for our disease site rotation. The VA hospital experience has provided us with opportunities such as improving on various aspects of clinical health and clinical skills, developing good communications skills through doctor-patient interactions, and improving on the management and diagnosis of clinical cases.
We share patients daily with five other interns from different optometry schools, Mondays -Thursdays 7 a.m-4:30 p.m, and Fridays 8 a.m-12 p.m. Each extern had his/her own room and equipment. Every Friday morning from 8 –10 a.m we have multiple PowerPoint presentations on optometry topics or weekly patient cases by the externs and/or doctors.
We see veterans from the schedules of four or five different optometrists or residents, and the veterans range in age from 22 to 99 yrs old. Every Friday afternoon after seeing patients the doctors/externs go out to have lunch.
The extern experience at the VA allows us the opportunity to examine, diagnose, and manage challenging refractive errors, anterior segment abnormalities, retinal pathologies, as well as travel for extended optometric education. We traveled to the Augusta Blind Center to see the latest equipment available to patients that we refer to the blind center. We were introduced to several visual/auditory aids that are available for patients and we toured the rooms that were provided to veterans.
Another extended educational opportunity was our attendance at an optometry Continuing Education educational course and a dinner that was free to externs. Drs. Ron Melton and Randall Thomas, the co-authors of the 2009 Clinical Guide to Ophthalmic Drugs, made an interesting CE presentation on drugs to treat different ocular conditions.
Timothy and Sherita
with their fellow VA'ers.
We would recommend the Dorn VA hospital to other externs. It was a rewarding learning opportunity that has enhanced our optometric knowledge and patient care skills. We worked closely with our preceptor, Dr. Christian Jordan (a PCO grad) and the team of optometrists, who often evaluated as well as educated us on our clinical knowledge and applications. The externship opportunity is essential and it allowed us the opportunity to apply our clinical skills and optometric learning under real world settings. As student clinicians, we provided thorough and comprehensive eye examinations, extensive patient care, and patient education. We appreciate our externship experiences.
On a more personal note:
Timothy and Sherita Brown & family
We are full time optometry students and the proud parents of two beautiful children who have been part of Salus publications since birth. We have to be responsible, work together as a team, and manage our time in order to balance our daily schedules to include time for and with our children, after working as student clinicians.
Our daughter, Tycianna, and son, Timothy II, are in daycare most of the day, while we are working at our rotation sites. Daily we get them dressed, drop them off at the daycare early in the morning (sometimes 6:45 am), and pick them up in the afternoon.
It has been challenging but manageable to find daycare as we move to different rotation sites. One challenge was the time our daycare suddenly closed down permanently, and we had to find another one to move our children to. Fortunately, we were able to secure another place that provided quality and affordable daycare. Some days or weekends, the grandparents get the children for overnight stays or trips to various fun places. We look forward to those times!
3rd Year Externship Experience
- Singapore National Eye Center
- Alexander Hospital
- Stan Isaacs Specialty Contact Lens Practice
Why are you in Singapore?
- cross cultural competency.
- expanding my knowledge base of common and uncommon eye conditions.
- maintaining a versatile patient-focused approach.
It does not take any more than one day of exposure to realize that there is a vast difference between Singaporeans and Americans.
Dan at work in Singapore
American patients differ greatly from Singaporean patients in their interactions with the doctor. Singaporean patients are very health-conscious, and will only very rarely be found non-compliant with medications or with the recommendations of their Doctor.
You can get around Singapore easily, as long as you are adaptable to your environment.
Dan with the lights of Singapore
in the background .
Optometry is not the same here as it is in the US. But rather than detracting, I believe that adds to the value of the site…
I am attached to the most well-known Optometry practices here: Stan Isaacs.
“Optom’s” here are limited to fitting contact lenses, spectacles and refracting, unless under the auspices of an Ophthalmologist in Singapore. Since this is the Optometrist’s career focus, however, they are the best at it.
But my attachment to both the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and Alexander Hospital has balanced my externship equally between deciding on a precise Reverse Curve and diagnosing Punctate Inner Choroidopathy.
The site coordinators at Singapore National Eye Center, Alexander Hospital and Stan Isaac's have all been very friendly, and want nothing more than to make me feel welcome. I am attached to some of the best doctors in all of Asia, but maximum learning potential is limited only by the quality and amount of the questions that I can ask... most of the doctors are surprised to see how much Optometrists know.
My presence here is also helping to inspire local Optometrists to further their education at programs like PCO's MSc in Optometry.