Detroit VAMC - Residency in Ocular Disease
Accredited Affiliated with Michigan College of Optometry Optometry Clinic
4646 John R
Detroit, MI  48201
Phone: 313-576-1000 x65742
FAX: 313-576-1002


The hospital-based optometry residency at John D. Dingell VAMC Health Care System will provide
post-doctorate clinical experiences resulting in advanced competency in the evaluation, treatment
and management of a wide variety of ocular conditions, with a special emphasis on ocular
disease. This residency will equip the resident with the necessary tools for lifelong learning, thereby enabling advanced-level competency throughout his or her professional career. The residency will provide the professional and clinical foundation for the resident’s future contributions to the profession of optometry, and provides extensive experience in the interdisciplinary clinical care of patients with systemic health problems. The residency serves to sharpen the management skills of the post-graduate optometrist in dealing with specific ocular diseases. The program offers the opportunity for scholarly pursuits, including student teaching, clinical research, and oral and written presentations.

Residency Supervisor: Phillip Elston, O.D.
E-Mail:  phillip.elston@va.gov

Clinical Teaching Faculty:
Arlene Gold O.D.
Chad Gallatin O.D.
Jeanette Varanelli O.D.
Craig Swanson O.D.

Detroit VAMC Hospital: The medical center provides both outpatient and inpatient care to eligible veterans living in the region. Services include comprehensive primary health care, substance abuse treatment, surgical care and treatment, psychiatric care, dental care, and nursing home care. The facility was built in 1998 and extends primary medical care to veterans living in Michigan.

Length of Program: 1 year start July 1, 2008, ending June 30, 2009

Admissions:All applicants to optometry residencies must use the Optometric Residency Matching Services (ORMS).

ORMatch provides:

  • comprehensive listing of all ACOE accredited residency programs
  • detailed instructions for applying to a residency program
  • standardized application forms
  • conducts a fair and standardized process for matching applicants to residency programs

More information, instructions, forms, and deadlines are available at:

Optometry Residency Match (ORMatch)
National Matching Services, Inc.
20 Holly Street, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M4S 3B1
Telephone: 416-977-3431
Fax:  416-977-5020
E-mail: ormatch@natmatch.com

Application and Instructions

Download one of the following:
MSWord - allows you to type in responses and print
Pdf - allows you to print blank form for manual completion (requires Adobe Reader)
Rtf - Download, complete using your word processing program

Application Requirements:

  • Name, current address, email and phone number
  • Send current curriculum vitae (CV) and a letter of intent (email acceptable) to the Program Supervisor to include individual's reasons for wanting to complete the residency program.
  • Send NBEO scores to the program supervisor. These scores may either be official transcripts sent to us from the national board, or photocopies of the score reports that were sent to you. If you are accepted for a residency position, we will need an official copy of the scores for credentialing purposes. Only those candidates who have already passed Part II prior to beginning the residency program
  • Have your official optometry college transcripts sent to the program supervisor (undergraduate transcripts are not required.)
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty members of the applicant’s college of optometry. It is recommended that at least one of your letters of recommendations is written by a clinical instructor who directly supervised you during your Fourth year clinical experience.
  • All applicants must graduate with a Doctor of Optometry degree from a school or college of optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council or prior to the acceptance of the start of the residency program.
  • Prior to completion of the residency, it is expected that the applicant will have passed the National Board exams and will obtain state licensure.
  • Brief statement from the applicant regarding the individual’s desire to complete this particular residency program.
  • All applicants are chosen based on a non-discrimination policy set by the standards of the federal government. The Non-discrimination policy does not discriminate based on age, sex religion, race, creed, national origin or disabilities.

Application Deadline: February 1

For more information,
please contact Dr. Elston at the address above, or
Bruce Morgan, OD, FAAO
Director of Residencies
Michigan College of Optometry
Ferris State University
11224 S. State Street, MCO 231
Big Rapids, Michigan 49307
(231) 591-2180 - telephone
(231) 591-2394 - fax

8:00am-5:30pm; Monday -Friday

Stipends and Expenses: The resident will receive $29,000 plus location stipend for the year in training. The resident is entitled to 13 days of Annual Leave and 13 days of Sick Leave for the duration of the residency program. Authorized absence can be granted for educational purposes (conferences, etc.). In addition, benefits include federal health, life and professional liability insurance.

Scope of the Residency: Roughly 30% of patients entering the optometry clinics require routine care for their eyes. The remaining 70% present with a wide array of ocular disease states running the gamut from commonly encountered conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma to less common conditions including sickle cell retinopathy and intraocular tumors. Over the course of the resident’s year of training it is expected that he/she will encounter most of the eye conditions studied while in optometry school.


  • To improve the resident’s ability to diagnose and manage visual and ocular disease processes such as cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal degenerations, and diabetic retinopathies. 
  • To improve the resident’s ability to differentially diagnose and manage anterior segment disease. 
  • To improve the resident’s ability to differentially diagnose and nonsurgically manage the glaucoma. 
  • To improve the resident’s ability to diagnose and manage other causes of visual deficit such as neurological disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease. 
  • To develop a knowledge and understanding of the health care delivery mechanisms in VA hospital environments and participate in multidisciplinary health care delivery. 
  • To develop a knowledge and understanding of the social, emotional, and cultural characteristics common to patients in hospital environments. 
  • To prepare optometrists for lifelong scholarship in patient care, education, and optometric leadership. 
  • To provide adequate facilities and resources for use by the residents.


to better understand the differential diagnosis of the various ocular disorders which affect vision
to better understand the disease mechanisms which lead to visual impairment

-to establish appropriate treatment plans for patients with disorders of the eye or visual system
-to understand and consistently utilize the full scope of professional services available to patients with ocular disorders

-to develop effective skills for communicating with patients, optometry staff, and other disciplines
-to effectively communicate with others through oral and written reports

-to develop effective teaching methods with optometry students
-to share with other health care providers the value of optometry

-to develop supervisory skills in the interdisciplinary management of patients with visual disorders
-to develop skills for the supervision of assigned students

-to better understand administrative interactions with other agencies involved in the care of hospitalized patients with visual disorders
-to develop administrative techniques necessary for the management of components such as scheduling, budget, supplies, staff/patient ratio, etc.


1. To serve as a resident for the entire period specified above
2. To perform to the best of his/her abilities in all assigned duties
3. To maintain and complete supervisor evaluations, patient logs, etc.
4. To complete one publishable quality paper or poster.
5. To maintain standards of competence in clinical practice
6. To act in a professional manner at all times
7. To observe all rules and regulations of the Michigan College of Optometry including:
1. Practice within the scope of clinical privileges
2. Practice according to the rules of residency supervision
8. To refrain from participating in any activities (personal or other employment related) that would interfere with the effective performance of all assigned duties and responsibilities.


Upon successful completion of the program, the resident will be awarded a certificate of Advanced Clinical Competency.


  • Each of the six exam rooms comes equipped with up to date instrumentation including: 
  • Desktop computer with internet access 
  • Ultramatic phoropter 
  • B-VAT electronic acuity chart 
  • Keratometer 
  • Trial lens set with trial frame 
  • Slit lamp with Goldmann tonometer 
  • Binocular indirect ophthalmoscope 
  • Direct hand instruments 
  • Reclining exam chairs 

Also within the clinic: 

  • One exam room equipped with wheel chair glide 
  • Contact and Non-contact fundus lenses 
  • Gonioscopy mirrors
  • A/B Scan ultrasound unit   
  • 750 Humphrey visual field analyzer 
  • Perkins tonometer 
  • Portable ultrasound pachymeter 
  • Fundus camera 
  • Digital fundus camera 
  • Zeiss Fluorescein Angiography Photography 
  • OCT 
  • Tonopen 
  • Auto-lensometer 
  • Auto-refractor 
  • Hertel exophthalmometer 
  • Potential acuity meter 
  • Blood pressure cuffs/sphygmomanometer 
  • Non-contact tonometer 
  • Hand instruments/injectables for simple excisions 
  • Foreign body removal kit
  • Hand held slit lamp 
  • Punctal dilation and irrigation kit


  • Psychology 
  • Psychiatry 
  • Neurology 
  • Geriatric Medicine 
  • Rehabilitative Medicine 
  • General Practice Medicine 
  • Nuclear Medicine 
  • Internal Medicine 
  • Dermatology 
  • Dentistry 
  • Clinical Pharmacy 
  • Surgery Clinics


  • Residents must be hard-working, self-motivated, and enthusiastic. Residency programs are independent in nature, so what you get out of the program depends on what you put in to it. Dedication, discipline, and commitment are expected. 
  • The resident is a role model for senior optometry students as well as a representative for optometry to the medical community. The resident must conduct him/herself at all times with composure, patience, and professionalism.
  • Teamwork is stressed in the clinic. It is expected that all members of the clinic staff will contribute to the goal of providing comprehensive and compassionate care to the patients. Ancillary staff is limited, so residents are expected to take part in all tasks associated with the care of the patients including greeting them at the front office, locating charts, copying records, filing records and answering questions over the telephone.


  • A small on campus store and restaurant are available.
  • The hospital medical library is available for resident use.


  • The resident is encouraged to interact with other disciplines inside and outside the medical center. Opportunities exist to visit Radiology, Laboratory Medicine, Pathology, Primary Care, and Dermatology as well as to visit private ophthalmologists on site and at Kresege Eye Institute.
  • The resident is encouraged to interact at Kresege Eye Institute Grand Rounds academic course.
  • The resident must be prepared for teaching, public speaking, and writing opportunities.