IUSO Externship program continues tradition of excellence

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dr. Elli Kollbaum receives lots of love notes.  As Director of the IU School of Optometry Externship Program, she interfaces directly with site directors at over forty different externship locations across the country, and she hears from them frequently about how great her IU students are.  "No matter what the knowledge level, IU students are hardworking and know how to interact with patients.  I chose to stick with IU students only a long time ago" says one doctor.  Another reports, “I started this clinic in 2010.  When I was ready for students, I called IU first.” 

 While Dr. Kollbaum works very hard to direct the externship program, and has high expectations for her students, she still always enjoys getting positive feedback from the doctors located at the externship sites.  “It never gets old,” she says. 

 The IU School of Optometry Externship Program sends all 4th year optometry students to one of forty externship sites each year.  With representation from military bases, the VA, private practice, and more, these externships are a culminating experience for IUSO students.  The program offers practical, mentored clinical experiences with goals of bringing graduates to entry level competency in optometric care and augmenting learning in varied clinical settings.  In addition to serving as site directors, the doctors on site at the externship locations also serve as adjunct faculty for the School of Optometry.  In this capacity, they agree to instruct and mentor the students during their time on site.  During the course of their fourth year, IU School of Optometry students rotate through four different externship locations, one or two internal (Atwater Eye Care Clinic and Indianapolis Eye Care Clinic), and two or three external (over forty locations across the country).  The students benefit greatly from this process, learning from their varied experiences in a clinic setting, and in particular, from the many dedicated site directors who work with them to facilitate that learning. 

 The benefits seem to go both ways, as well.  One externship site doctor reports, “Compared to other schools, they usually can put together a spec Rx that makes sense right off the bat.  They can think through the cases to take a stab at the clinical decision-making which is not true of student from other schools.  I don’t know what I would do without my IU students.”

 Dr. Elli Kollbaum is proud of the program and looks forward to many more years of growth and success.  “What can I say?” she says, “We have great students.”