What's Next?

Externship Program

Mission Statement:


To expand the educational and clinical experience of Southern College of Optometry students in order to provide larger numbers of patient encounters and exposure to additional off-campus health care settings in support of the mission of the Southern College of Optometry.

During their fourth professional year, SCO students spend one term in a clinical experience at the Eye Center, one term in a private practice, and one term in an institutional site. This variety in practice modality affords the students the experience of a higher volume of patients, significant ocular disease, multi-disciplinary exposure, practice management, community involvement, and increased intensive academic rigor. In addition to their clinical work, students are also expected to complete online SCO course(s) and SOAP (Subjective Objective Assessment Plan) case assignments.

SCO offers over 100 extern sites with broad geographical locations across the USA. All sites have been vetted and approved by SCO. The Director of Externship and Residency Programs also plans regular visits of extern sites to ensure quality. A detailed list and site evaluations can be accessed in the Externship Office located on the 10th floor of 1245 Madison Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104. SCO students select their sites during the summer of their third academic year (a year in advance). Assignments are based upon student preference, preceptor availability, local/regional need, financial considerations and GPA.


Extern Program Contacts

Cheryl Lerma, O.D.
Director of Externship and Residency Programs
[email protected]

Mary Rice
Coordinator, Externship & Residency Programs    

[email protected]

Externship Handbook for Preceptors

Click here to download a PDF of the Externship Handbook for Preceptors.