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Residency Profile: Crownpoint Healthcare Facility

Residency Programs

Crownpoint Healthcare Facility

Crowpoint Healthcare Building with Rainbow in Background

Established: 1995
Positions: One

Crownpoint Healthcare Facility
P.O. Box 358
Crownpoint, NM 87313-0358
(505) 786-6249
Fax: (505) 786-6435 (ATTN: EYE CLINIC)

Program Faculty

Residency Coordinator: Nazret Weldeghiorgis, OD

Attending: C. Denise Pensyl, OD, FAAO, Chief of Optometry

Mission Statement

The mission of the residency program is to provide a comprehensive experience in primary care optometry in a multi-disciplinary hospital setting for postdoctoral optometric practitioners to continue to cultivate their clinical and educational growth.  Residents in this program will provide optimal patient and primary eye care to Native Americans of all ages in an educational-clinical setting that utilizes a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to direct and carry out patient care.  Fostering an appreciation for the culture of the Navajo people will help insure that the resident appreciates and becomes a caring and compassionate provider for all patients with diverse cultures.

ExamOptical CenterOffice Staff WorkingOffice Staff Give High Fives


Program Description

Program Goals

  1. Strengthen the resident’s primary care skills.
  2. To provide the resident with a practical understanding of the patient care components of an IHS health care system which may be representative of other health care systems that the resident will encounter in their future.
  3. Expand and enhance the resident’s ocular and systemic health care knowledge base.
  4. Provide a forum for the development of the resident’s interest in scholarly activity.

Program Objectives

  1. Provide the resident with an extensive primary care patient base.
  2. Provide the resident with a variety of diverse, challenging, and complex cases such as anterior uveitis, ocular trauma, diabetic retinopathy,  glaucoma, retinal detachment, ocular infections, unusual refractive errors,  and others.
  3. The resident will work within and develop an understanding of the interdisciplinary concept of health care.
  4. The resident will develop an understanding of the support services that are available within a medical center health care system.
  5. Require the resident to read at least one ocular health care journal article per week, and encourage the resident to review other health care literature.
  6. The resident will develop an understanding of other health care disciplines.
  7. Require the resident to meet SCCO mandated deadlines in the process of manuscript preparation.
  8. Instruct and advise the resident in the preparation of clinical presentations.
  9. The resident will develop an understanding of and experience the responsibilities of an optometric educator.

Typical Daily or Weekly Schedule in Clinic

  • Duration of program: 12 months (start date July)
  • Clinic hours: Monday through Friday (8:00am – 5:00pm) with lunch from 12:00pm – 1:00pm.
  • The resident has the option of a regular schedule (Monday-Friday 8 hours per day) or a Flex Schedule (9 work days in a 2 week period).  
  • The resident will be expected to take emergency room calls when deemed appropriate.
  • The day is finished after all the patients are seen and the daily case discussions are through.

Rotation through other Services

  • The resident rotates through several interdisciplinary outpatient clinics within Crownpoint Health Care Facility.
  • In addition, the resident rotates through Ophthalmology sub-specialties observing surgery in Gallup, NM and Albuquerque, NM.
  • The resident will also rotate through several optometry service units within the Navajo Nation during the program, primarily the clinics in Pueblo Pintado, NM and Thoreau, NM.

Type and Number of Patients

Approximately 85% of patient care includes:

  • Providing comprehensive primary eye care examinations on a significant volume of patients with various visual and ocular problems.
  • Participation in the joint management, treatment, and consultation of patients with ocular disease.
  • Co-manage patients with other health care specialties
  • Provide prescription for eyewear, topical and/or oral medications, perform non-invasive therapeutic procedures (e.g. foreign body removal), and order indicated laboratory testing and imaging studies within the scope of the residents current practitioner license and current hospital privileges.

Approximately15% of patient care encounters includes the supervision of 4th year students.

Teaching Responsibilities

The resident will be required to supervise 4th year students.

Lecturing Opportunities

  • The resident will present lectures on a regular basis in the Eye Clinic to students and preceptors.
  • The resident will present a case report at the annual IHS conference.
  • The resident presents an ocular disease presentation to the medical staff.
  • The resident may present lectures to ophthalmic technician conferences within Navajo Nation

Scholarly Activities

A publishable paper suitable for submission to a referred professional journal is a requirement for completion of the residency program. The resident may choose a topic from a lecture they have presented during the year. The deadline for submitting a draft is April 15. Preparation for the paper is done with guidance and assistance from the residency director.

The resident will receive didactic training, which includes:

  • Daily clinical case reviews
  • Weekly clinical discussions
  • IHS journal clubs (In conjunction with other IHS residency programs, on a rotating basis, the resident receives important articles in optometric or ophthalmologic publications which will be discussed in a quarterly forum with all service unit eye care providers attending).
  • Resident lectures and presentations to the medical staff or provide a Continuing Education lecture.
  • Attend IHS/NAIHS optometry meetings
  • Attend hospital multidisciplinary continuing education.

Additional Employment Opportunities

Due to the flex schedule, the resident will have one week day to use, at their option, for moonlighting purposes in order to supplement their resident income and to network for future employment opportunities. Local opportunities require a New Mexico or Colorado state license.


The annual stipend is $91,087 (GS-11, Step 1 in the federal pay scale system) with biweekly disbursements for the 12 months paid through IHS.


Health The resident has the opportunity to purchase federal health insurance. Employee related immunizations are available at no cost.
Holidays The resident receives 10 federal holidays.
Educational Expenses Expenses related to education travel are usually paid by the resident. However, this facility does offer reimbursement through Concur, provided funds are available during the fiscal year.
Vacation The resident accrues 4 hours of annual leave and 4 hours of sick leave in each pay period. Annual leave must be requested 4 weeks in advance, except in the rarest of emergency circumstances. CME conference days are not considered as leave.
Liability As a federal employee, the resident is covered by the Tort Claims Act. If the resident chooses to engage in outside (moonlighting) activity, s/he is responsible for obtaining adequate malpractice insurance.
Continuing Education Indian Health Service optometry meetings are held annually giving each resident an opportunity to present to IHS optometrists and accrue continuing education credit. Residents may also attend one national (AAO, AOA) meeting during the residency cycle. Costs for attendance are borne by the resident. However, federal funds may provide financial assistance through reimbursement for AAO,AOA, or IHS
Information Resources IHS gives NIH access to numerous ophthalmic, primary care, and healthcare specialty subscriptions
The SCCO Library provides a journal service to residents:  it provides up to 5 articles per month per resident on request.  Remote access to journals is also available.
Crownpoint Eye Clinic has a modest amount of ophthalmic reference textbooks.


  • Applicants must be citizens of the United States of America.
  • Applicants must have earned an OD degree from a school or college of optometry accredited by the Council on Optometric Education prior to the beginning of the residency program.
  • The applicant must apply through the Optometric Residency Matching Services, Inc. (ORMS) and follow the application guidelines. The deadline for application submission is January 31.
  • Applicant must have taken and passed all applicable parts of the NBEO examinations, including the TMOD.
  • Applicants must provide CHCF residency program with the following: a letter of intent with goals outlined, official transcripts of all optometric education, official copies of NBEO scores, three letters of reference and a curriculum vitae.
  • Ranking is as follows:
    • Interview 20%
    • GPA 15%
    • NBEO scores 15%
    • Letter of Intent 10%
    • Letter of Recommendations 20%
    • Special qualities/characteristics 20%
      • Maturity
      • Professionalism
      • Communication Skills
      • Attitude
      • Ability to get along with others
  • An interview is mandatory either in person or via telephone.
  • Applicants must be eligible for licensure as an optometrist in a state, territory, or commonwealth of the United States, or in the District of Columbia.
  • All residency program applicants will be evaluated without regard to sex, race, color, creed, age, national origin, or non-disqualifying physical disabilities.

Requirements for Residency Completion and Awarding of Certificate

  • The resident is required to keep a detailed log of all required program aspects, which will be reviewed by the SCCO Director of Residency Programs, and the CHCF Residency Coordinator.
  • The resident is required to provide patient care services at a level deemed satisfactory by the Residency Coordinator and faculty, in line with the highest levels of current optometric standards of practice.
  • The resident is required to participate in the Navajo Area Indian Health Service (NAIHS) Residents Journal Club.
  • The resident is required to submit a paper based upon original research, literature review, and/or clinical case or cases suitable for publication in a peer reviewed optometric journal. A topic for the case report or research project must be selected by the October 3rd; the abstract of the case report or research project is due on December 1st; the 1st and 2nd draft of the paper will be submitted by March 1st and May 1st respectively; and the final paper is due on July 2nd.
  • The resident is expected to deliver patient care services in a professional manner and to observe those proprieties of conduct and courtesy that are consistent with the rules and regulations governing SCCO and the IHS.
  • Upon evidence of satisfactory performance in meeting all requirements of the program, the resident will be awarded a Certificate of Residency Completion by the SCCO.

Program Accreditation

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) continued the status of “accredited” for the program in 2012. The next currently scheduled site visit is October 2020.


Government housing is available around $280-$380 plus utilities.

Local Activities & Attractions

  • Proximity to wide open spaces and the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado provide every recreational opportunity except for immersion water sports. Snow season is especially plentiful with Purgatory Ski Resort (3 hours), Telluride (4 hours) and Wolf Creek Ski Resort (4 hours) nearby.
  • National parks and monuments within a few hours drive.
    • Grand Canyon (4.5 hours)
    • Zion National Park (6.5 hours)
    • Moab, UT (4.5 hours)
    • Antelope Canyon (5 hours)
  • Total envelopment in Native American culture.

Former Residents

2018-2019 Tiffani Jackson – NOVA  

2017-2018  Roger Studd – MCPHS
2016-2017  Jennifer Anderson - SCO
2015-2016  Brian Shih - SCCO
2014-2015  Nazret Weldeghiorgis - UCB
2013-2014  Sahil Dosaj - Western
2012-2013  Karen Tong - SCCO
2011-2012  Scott Bartlett - UCB
2010-2011  Marisa Kim - SCCO
2009-2010  Mei Huang - SCCO
2008-2009  Raj Bajwa - SCCO
2007-2008  Chris Cordes - SCCO
2006-2007  Luisa Alvarez - SCCO
2005-2006  Stacy Washington - SCCO

Contact Info

Nazret Weldeghiorgis, OD
Residency Coordinator
Crownpoint Healthcare Facility
P.O. Box 358
Crownpoint, NM 87313-0358
505.786.6249 • Email:

Judy W.H. Tong, OD, FAAO
Assistant Dean of Residencies
Southern California College of Optometry at
Marshall B. Ketchum University
2575 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831-1699
714.449.7429 • Fax: 714.992.7811• Email: