Value Added Assessment of Private Practice Externships

Diane T. Adamczyk, OD, FAAO
Rochelle Mozlin, OD, MPH, FAAO, FCOVD


Private practice settings provide important educational experiences for optometry students, with opportunities for both clinical and practice management exposure. Challenges exist for both the private practice and the affiliated educational institution. These challenges include assuring an appropriate educational experience or the student, integrating the extern into the practice, and developing the private practice preceptor into a clinical educator.

This project assessed what components are important in establishing “Optometric Centers of Excellence for Private Practice Specialty Education” and compared the specialty (vision therapy/pediatric) private practice experience with an institutionally based specialty externship. The phases of the project included planning and development, implementation and outcomes assessment. Criteria for site selection, site visitation and assistance in developing the private practice preceptor into an educator are essential components in establishing private practice externships.

The specialty private practice externships were found to have a value added component that included a broader patient population, greater variety of clinical education opportunities, and increased understanding of practice management skills.

Key Words: private practice externship, externship, private practice, clinical education, practice management

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