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Residency Profile: Northern Navajo Medical Center

Residency Programs
Northern Navajo Medical Center (NNMC)

Established: 1993

Positions: One

Northern Navajo Medical Center
P.O. Box 160
Shiprock, NM 87420


Program Faculty

Residency Co-Coordinators: Leslie Meyer, OD, FAAO & Barbara Massey, OD, FAAO


  • Shannon Lee, OD

Mission Statement

The mission of the residency program is to provide a comprehensive primary care optometry experience 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 multidisciplinary team of professionals to direct and carry out patient care. Fostering an appreciation for the culture of the Navajo people will help ensure that the resident becomes a caring and compassionate provider for all patients with diverse cultures.

Program Description

Program Goals

  1. To strengthen the resident’s primary care/ocular disease 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/ocular disease 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. The resident will participate in the quarterly resident journal club meeting
  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, August 1 to July 31
  • Hours:
    • Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with 30 minutes for lunch.
    • Optional four day 10 hour work week, 7:00am-5:30pm with 30 minutes for lunch
  • Wednesday PM:  OPEN for administrative/educational responsibilities
  • Mon/Tues/Thurs/Friday: 30 minutes at the beginning and end of the clinic day are set aside as administrative time for clinic preparation, charting, and case reviews.
  • Call Schedule
    • There is an after-hours eye care call schedule; the resident will participate in call duties. Responsibility is to be available to consult by phone with ER/urgent care providers approximately 3-5 days per month.

Rotation Through other Services

The resident will rotate through other departments within NNMC including rheumatology, radiology, neurology, oral-maxillo facial division, ENT and audiology, diabetes education center, public health nursing, etc.

Rotation through Ophthalmology Practices

Arrangements will be made for the resident to rotate through the ophthalmology practices to which we refer. Practices are located in Farmington, NM and Durango, CO and include all specialties.

Type and Number of Patients

Northern Navajo Medical Center is a 75-bed facility that provides health care to some 50,000 people with surgery, medicine and obstetrics inpatient services, emergency room, outpatient clinics and community health programs.

Teaching Responsibilities

The resident may be provided the opportunity to serve as a clinical preceptor for optometry interns rotating through NNMC. Currently there is no regular student rotation program.

Lecturing Opportunities

As part of the requirement for the completion of the residency program, the resident must prepare and present at least one continuing education lecture for the medical staff of NNMC.

One case presentation to be given at the IHS Biennial Eye Care Meeting in Fullerton, CA or the Navajo Area Indian Health Service Meeting in Durango, CO.

Scholarly Activities

Thesis Paper
The resident is required to write a publishable paper suitable for submission to a referred professional journal. The abstract is due approximately January 1 and initial draft is due by April 1. The final draft is due to the SCCO Director for External Programs by June 1.

Journal Clubs
The resident is required to read at least two ocular health care journal articles per week.
The resident will be an active participant in the quarterly Navajo Area optometry journal club.


The annual stipend is $97,876 (GS11 step 1) for the 12-month program paid through the U.S. Federal Government/Civil Service employment.


Health The resident is offered the opportunity to obtain health insurance and choice of plans through the federal government.
Holidays All Federal holidays.
Educational Travel Students will not receive a stipend for educational travel in most cases.
Vacation As a civil service employee, the resident will accrue 4 hours of annual leave each two week pay period.
Liability The resident is covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Continuing Education The resident is expected to attend the Biennial HIS Eye Care Conference in Fullerton, CA or the Navajo Area IHS meeting in Durango, CO.. Additional NNMC, medical staff continuing education opportunities are available as well as Navajo Area Indian Health Service continuing educational opportunities.
Information Resources N/A



  • OD degree from school or college of optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (include transcript)
  • Must be U.S. citizen
  • Passage of NBEO (include official transcripts of NBEO scores)
  • Optometric License must be obtained before civil service employment is obtained.
  • Candidates must apply through the Optometric Residency Matching Services, Inc (ORMatch)

Applicants must provide:

  • A letter of intent for applying to the program, including a statement of goals desired to be attained during the residency.
  • An application must furnish complete transcripts of all optometric education.
  • Three letters of reference. The following are suggestions of the appropriate individuals to compose the letters of reference:
    • Clinical Director of the school or college of optometry from which the applicant has graduated or will graduate.
    • Internal faculty members who have been responsible of the clinical education of the applicant.
    • External faculty members who have been responsible for the clinical education of the applicant.
  • An interview may be required and is strongly encouraged.
  • CV

Selection Criteria

All completed applications will be evaluated by the program coordinator and other on-site faculty prior to ORMatch match day.  Candidates are ranked according the following categories and weight:

  • GPA 15%
  • NBEO Scores 15%
  • Letters of Recommendation 20%
  • Letter of Intent 10%
  • Interview 20%
  • Special qualities/characteristics 20% (Including personality, motivation, professionalism, communication skills, willingness to learn, attitude, ability to work as part of a team, etc.)

Program Accreditation
Accredited by the ACOE. Contact the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) at


The resident is responsible to obtain his/her own housing in Farmington, NM (30 miles) or Cortez, CO (40 miles).

Local Activities & Attractions

Northern Navajo Medical Center, on the northeast portion of the Navajo Reservation, is location in the town of Shiprock, NM.  The Four Corners region provides many world class outdoor recreational activities (hiking, biking, camping, skiing/snowboarding, fishing, paddling, etc.) as well as numerous cultural opportunities.  The area is the gateway to the San Juan mountains to the north and the desert/canyon country to the west.  The high desert climate of the region provides all four seasons.

The nearby city of Farmington, NM has a population of ~45,000 and is the largest city in the Four Corners region.  Farmington is connected to Shiprock by 4 lane highway, offers most suburban services, and is a hub for shopping and restaurants in the area.  Farmington is also the home to San Juan Community College.   Cortez, CO is a scenic commute north of Shiprock.  Cortez is a quiet town, historically a farming and agricultural community, with a population of ~8,500.  Cortez has a recreation center, basic amenities, and a very small airport with services to Denver and Phoenix.  A larger airport is located in Durango, CO approximately equal distance from Farmington and Cortez.  The largest airport in the area is located in Albuquerque, NM.

Some of the attractions in the Four Corners include Mesa Verde National Park, Aztec Ruins, Chaco Canyon, Canyon of the Ancients, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Lake, and Four Corners Monument.  Weekend trip possibilities include the Grand Canyon, Moab and southern Utah national parks, Page and Lake Powell, Albuquerque/Santa Fe/Taos, and the San Juan Mountain towns of Telluride/Silverton/Ouray.  Nearby downhill skiing/snowboarding can be found at Telluride Ski Resort, Purgatory Resort, and Wolf Creek.

Former Residents Testimonials – Contact Information

Dr. Kia Yang- current resident-

Dr. Tel Todd- former resident-

Dr. Kassy Swanson- former resident-

Dr. Hanna Fylpaa- former resident-

Dr. Melissa Lester- former resident-

Barbara Massey, OD, FAAO
Residency Co-Coordinator
Northern Navajo Medical Center
P.O. Box 160
Shiprock, NM 87420
505.368.7130 • Email:

Leslie Meyer, OD, FAAO
Residency Co-Coordinator
Northern Navajo Medical Center
P.O. Box 160
Shiprock, NM 87420
505.368.7130 • Email:

Judy W.H. Tong, OD
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: