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Residency Spotlight

Residency Spotlight

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Residency Spotlight: James H. Quillen VAMC Optometric Residency Program

Residency Spotlight: James H. Quillen VAMC Optometric Residency Program

Loren W. (Larry) Bennett, OD, MPH, FAAO, ABCMO:


Program Highlights

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northeast Tennessee, the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, sits on a 207-acre campus in Johnson City, TN.  Our teaching hospital is affiliated with the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health at the adjacent East Tennessee State University.  The campus includes a tertiary care inpatient hospital, a 120-bed nursing home care unit, and a residential domiciliary unit.  Optometry residents work closely with other health professionals in this interdisciplinary setting to maximize patient care outcomes. 

Our accredited residency program offers two positions in a busy hospital-based clinic.  Optometry residents gain extensive experience in an integrated health care system, with an emphasis on ocular and systemic disease, specialty ophthalmic and hospital-based testing procedures, and multi-disciplinary coordination of care.  One half day per week is scheduled in Low Vision Clinic, providing primary low vision care and working with the Visual Impairment Services Team to manage patients with visual impairment.  Another half day per week is spent on rotations in several clinics across the hospital to gain exposure to other medical specialties and develop an understanding of the importance of integrated medical services in caring for the patient. 

Our clinic maintains academic affiliations with Southern College of Optometry, Illinois College of Optometry, Pennsylvania College of Optometry/Salus, and Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry.  The residency experience includes precepting of optometry externs from these affiliates, as well as having medical students and residents observe their clinic.  Optometric residents participate once a week in the optometry journal club, where presentations on various topics are given by the residents and optometry students.  They also participate in a weekly resident grand rounds session, with case studies and discussions moderated by the residency supervisor.  One journal-quality article will be written by the end of the program, which may be submitted for publication if desired.  A continuing educating lecture will be presented at the end of the year during the SCO Residents Weekend in Memphis, and opportunities exist to present continuing education courses to the local optometric society.  Residents are also encouraged to attend and present posters or lectures to regional and national optometric association meetings.


Supervisor Bio: 

Loren W. (Larry) Bennett, OD, MPH, FAAO, ABCMO is a 1988 graduate of the Ohio State University College of Optometry.  He completed an optometric residency in ocular disease at the Chillicothe, Ohio VA Medical Center and Columbus, Ohio VA Outpatient Clinic in 1988 – 1989.  He was on the staff at Ohio State College of Optometry as a clinical instructor from 1989 – 1990, then joined the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center/Mountain Home in Johnson City, TN as a staff optometrist in 1990.  He served as the Chief of Optometry at Mountain Home from 1993 – 2012, and was also a committee chairperson on the VHA Optometry Field Advisory Committee for several years. 

 Dr. Bennett has lectured at local, regional, and national meetings, and has published multiple posters and peer-reviewed journal articles.  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, and received his Master of Public Health from East Tennessee State University in 2000.  He started the optometric residency program at Mountain Home in 1999, and continues to supervise the program. 


What Supervising the Residency Means to Me: 

I am a big proponent of optometric residency programs.  I learned a lot from my supervisors during my residency experience; they shaped my views on how to practice optometry, and it eventually led to the VA as my career choice.  Regardless of the program a candidate may choose, they will never regret doing a residency.  We seek to provide an opportunity to build on your clinical training from school, and to gain advanced patient care experiences in a supportive environment that will make you a better clinician throughout your career.  Developing our program and working with the residents has been a highlight of my tenure at the VA.  It is rewarding and challenging for me personally and professionally, and I look forward every year to welcoming a new group to our facility.


Posted by Erin Jaffe at 05:00