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Tips for Ranking Optometry Residency Programs

Posted by Amanda Dexter on January 11, 2017 at 9:00 AM
Amanda Dexter
Dr. Amanda K. Dexter received her optometric training at Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California, where she was Class of 2010 Valedictorian. She also completed a residency in Primary Care and Ocular Disease at the Veteran's Affairs Hospital in San Diego, California. Dr. Dexter is the Manager and Program Coordinator for OptoPrep, the premiere online study resource for the NBEO Part I & II.


Ranking optometry residency programs can be an extremely stressful decision! The residency program that you end up participating in will help mold your future as an optometrist, so there is a lot to consider before the final submission of your rank order list. We’ve put together a few tips for you to seriously think about before you press that submit button!

Don’t overthink the matching algorithm

Some applicants will try to think out every matching scenario in their head and try to “game the system.” Trust us, this does not work! The best strategy for applicants is to make out their list based on their true preferences. So rank your first choice as #1. Any other strategy may actually result in a worse result for applicants who did not follow this “true preferences” strategy.

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Go with your gut

Which residency program did you feel you fit in best? Where would you be happy? Don’t just select a program for its name or reputation, or its geographic location. And don’t let others try to influence your decision based on their experiences at their visit with the program, as your experience could be completely different.

Do your homework

Make sure you know the facts about each program. How many patients will you see in a day? What types of patients will you be examining? What are the common conditions you are likely to see within their population base? Will you have journal club or grand rounds? Will you have the opportunity to observe other specialties? Will there also be optometry students on rotation at your site? Don’t base your facts on rumors or forums; contact the current or past residents and residency coordinators for your answers.

Only list programs you are willing to attend

It is important to know that any program you rank (even your last pick) could ending being the residency that you match with, so if there were programs that you visited that you don’t think you’ll be happy with, don’t rank them! It reflect extremely poorly on you if you were to match at a program and refuse the position; it is essentially a breach of contract and this unprofessional action will follow you in the future.

Don’t worry if you don’t match with a program

Not every applicant or residency program that enters the match will end up with a match at the end. After each match is complete, there will be a list of unmatched applicants and programs available so that they may contact each other and negotiate directly with each other for open positions. Many great matches happen outside of the system!

-Dr. Dexter

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Topics: Optometry Residency, Optometry Residency Interviews

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