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Residency Profile: Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

Primary Eye Care/Cornea Contact Lens Residency Program

Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC)

Program Established:  2002

Positions: 2

Program Length: 12 Months

Residency Start Date: July 1, 2022

Required in processing, training, etc. starts mid-June 2022

Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center Building Exterior Photo

Salt Lake City VA Residency program

The Salt Lake City VA Primary Eye Care/Cornea Contact Lens Residency delivers a unique learning experience where residents get a great mix of ocular disease, specialty contact lens and primary care optometry in a multi-specialty medical environment.   The program offers two positions for individuals who are highly motivated and enthusiastic.  These individuals must be self-driven, organized and want to become an outstanding optometric specialist.  This program was established in 2002 and as of June 2020 we have graduated 40 residents, many whom have become leaders in optometry.  Many have become VA staff members, 4 of which serve on our residency faculty, department of ophthalmology faculty, optometry college faculty, and integral members of OD/MD practices.  The residency is affiliated with the Marshall B. Ketchum University – Southern California College of Optometry and is fully accredited by ACOE.  


Our Faculty and Attending Doctors

Residency Coordinator                  Associate Residency Coordinator

D. Lee Tanner, O.D.                      Dale A. Woodfield, O.D., F.A.A.O.        


Brittany Capstick, O.D. FAAO              *Jeremey Gerritsen, O.D., FAAO        Lindsay Howse, O.D.

*David Meyer, O.D., FAAO       D. Lee Tanner, O. D.                   *Ryan Terry, O.D.                                 *Tyler Wyatt, O.D.                Dale A. Woodfield, O. D.                 Brad Freestone O.D.


*Faculty that completed their residencies at VA Salt Lake City.


Mission Statement

The fundamental mission of this residency program is to provide highly qualified post-doctoral optometric practitioners an outstanding educational experience which will nurture their development into exceptional, caring optometric clinicians, with a reinforced foundation in general optometric care and a high degree of expertise in advanced diagnostic and treatment skills .  The resident will be provided with opportunities that will assist them in developing confidence in using these advanced skills. Their advanced degree of competence will allow them to fully integrate and function within a large managed care medical center complex and national health care system.

The program places a large emphasis on contact lens fitting.  The resident will be exposed to all types of contact lenses, such as scleral and other specialty lenses, prosthetic lenses for ocular disfigurement, techniques of fitting infants and general contact lenses.

A wide variety of education opportunities will enhance the resident’s training and emphasize the importance of clinical and basic research.  The program will seek to attract highly qualified optometric graduates and instill in them a genuine concern for the patient and the desire to further upgrade their level of optometric education and patient care.

 Exterior Landscape Photo of Region

Program Description

At the completion of the residency, we would anticipate that the resident will have developed razor-sharp primary eye care skills.  Additionally, the resident will have received an enhanced understanding and elevated skill in diagnosing and treating ocular disease.  They will be able to readily examine and treat a broad variety of contact lens patients.  They will become experts in the use of specialty contact lenses.  Their work in a multidisciplinary health care system will provide them with increased understanding of systemic disease and its relationship to ocular health and vision. There will be ample opportunity to interact with many different disciplines. Working with other disciplines will help the residents to become comfortable and skilled in caring for geriatric patients.  As the population continues to age, this will be a significant asset that our residents will be able to draw upon in their practices.   One of our most important objectives is to assist the resident to develop an appreciation of the significance of research and other scholarly actives.

The Salt Lake City VA is a large medical complex that provides primary through advanced medical care. It serves veterans from southeastern Idaho, western Wyoming and Colorado, the entire state of Utah, eastern Nevada, and a small portion of Arizona.  We have a large patient base throughout this vast expanse that covers a large portion of the western United States.  As with most veteran populations, our veterans have a higher concentration of ocular and systemic disease and associated conditions. The patients range from about 20 to over 100 years of age with the largest concentration in their later sixties.  This ensures that you will have ample patient encounters. This will provide the opportunity for the resident to become proficient in various primary care procedures, strengthening the resident’s ability to diagnose, treat and manage ocular disease by providing a variety of challenging and complex cases including, but not limited to, the following: extensive ocular disease, trauma, unusual refractive errors, and ocular related systemic disease.  We also have a well-established contact lens program at the VA and our affiliate the Moran Eye Center.  The resident conducts a significant number of contact lens patient evaluations. They learn to evaluate which contact lens designs and materials work best for treating the different corneal diseases.  Residents will receive training in all the various specialized contact lenses, and how to fit them. 

Part of the clinical and didactic experience that residents receive is a better understanding of  interrelationships of various health care specialties through interacting with them.  You will develop an understanding of and learn to appropriately utilize the support services that are available within a hospital-based health care system. You will function as part of an interdisciplinary team identifying, addressing and delivering care to adult patients and understanding the benefits of interdisciplinary care.

One area which we feel is important for our residents is to gain an appreciation for life-long learning. It is through the dedicated effort that we put into learning which allows us to stay current and at the peak of our profession.  To this end, we provide many opportunities to make education a part of life.  We encourage attendance at the AAO meeting and several other national meetings. We also have our residents attend the Utah Optometric Association meetings throughout the year. We expose the resident to a wide variety of interesting case presentations. There is regular review of current health care literature.  We provide education in the process of manuscript preparation.  We also instruct and advise the resident in the preparation and presentation of a clinical lecture.  We strive to provide opportunities to realize the value of consistently continuing education through attendance at several national and local meetings.

Ski Utah

Typical Weekly Schedule

The weekly schedule will be 40 hours per week in clinics and research.

The resident will be scheduled in the clinic Monday through Friday 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Typically, there are no on call responsibilities.

A more detailed description of the schedule includes:

Most of your time is spent at the SLC VAMC.  A portion of your time is at the Moran Eye Center, the University of Utah to manage contact lens patients. There are Grand Rounds every Wednesday morning at 8:00 AM at the Moran Eye Center where our residents are invited to attend with the ophthalmology residents. The resident will have the opportunity to interact with our ophthalmology colleagues in sub-specialty clinics:  glaucoma, retina, and neuro-ophthalmology.

Depth of Experience

Our residents are provided a rigorous program, with ample assistance from our faculty.  The following are the requirements of the program:

Type and Number of Patients

The residents are expected to see a minimum of 750 primary eye care encounters.  Typically, they see at least 1,100 such patients.  In addition, the residents will see a minimum of 250 contact lens patient encounters and are required to see at least 30 specialized contact lens encounters per quarter. These patients are seen at the VA and at the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center.

Teaching Responsibilities

As the academic year progresses there are opportunities for the resident to oversee and instruct fourth year optometric interns.

Scholarly Activities

The resident will prepare a publishable quality manuscript. The resident is encouraged to submit the completed manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal. Residents are also requested to present a poster at a major optometric conference 

Staff Meetings

Weekly Optometry Staff Meetings include a short session to discuss articles or have presentations on different ocular conditions. The residents will present at least once each quarter at these meetings.   

Journal Club

Monthly journal club meetings review current literature on relevant topics.  Residents help conduct the discussions of this meeting.

Didactic Lectures

We have lectures monthly where our faculty will teach the residents on numerous topics related to different disease states, treatment modalities, medications, equipment, contact lenses

Are you the resident for us?  We are looking for applicants that are excited about their profession and who want to be top tier doctors.  Are you a professional who is a self-starter and well organized who wants to excel? Are you the type that likes challenges and adventure?  We want to work with you!


  • Candidates must receive an OD degree from a school accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education by the time the program begins on June 15.
  • Candidates must pass Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the NBEO* and the TMOD prior to the application deadline in January. ISE is also recommended. 
  • State licensure (in any state, not necessarily Utah) must be obtained prior to the residency year.
  • *U.S. citizenship is required.  Immigrants must provide proof of U.S. citizenship prior to application deadline in January.
  • Candidates must apply through Optometry Residency Matching Service, Inc. (ORMatch). 

*United States citizenship is required to qualify for VHA appointment in a paid VA optometry resident position funded by the Office of Academic Affiliations. Reference: VA Handbook 5005/57, Part ll, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3.g.(1) & (5)(c), dated June 14, 2012

Couple fishing

APPLICATION DEADLINE -  Monday January 31, 2023

Applicants need to provide the following: 

1. Optometric Educational GPA - official transcript

2. Undergraduate Educational GPA - official or unofficial transcript

3. National Board Passage of Parts 1, 2, 3, TMOD,

It is recommended that Part 3 is taken by October 2020. 

4. Short paper addressing the following questions.

                   a. Why are you interested in the Salt Lake VA Residency?

                   b. What are your career goals?

                   c. Why are you a good fit for this residency?

                   d. What makes a quality resident/doctor?

          e. How can you help promote and preserve the profession of optometry?

5.  A Curriculum Vitae.

6. Three letters of recommendations from professors or clinical instructors that can accurately evaluate the applicant in the following areas.  These should be sent directly from the author to ORMatch, electronically.

                   a. Skills/includes clinical skills

                   b. Commitment

                   c. Knowledge base

                   d. Interaction with patients, staff and attendings

                   e. The recommender’s level or degree of recommendation

7.  Personal Interviews with our residency committee members required for all accepted applicants.

8. A passport style photo. (Selfies are Ok)

All applications must be complete and submitted by the application deadline. After all materials are received, if the applicant meets our minimum criteria, an invitation will be extended to come to our site for the interview noted in item 7 above and a tour of our facilities.

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Selection Criteria VA Salt Lake City Health Care System

Only eligible candidates who have met all program prerequisites and who have completed the entire application process including interview will be considered for ORMatch ranking.  Eligible applicants are afforded a review without discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or any other applicable legally protected status.

The following items are taken into consideration by the program to determine ORMatch ranking:

  • Grade point average (GPA)
  • NBEO Scores including TMOD
  • Qualitative characteristic rating
  • The interview
  • Communication with the candidate
  • Communication from references
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Qualitative characteristics are determined from assessment of the following:


  • Personal appearance, grooming, attire, and demeanor
  • Written communication
  • Verbal Communication      

Related history and experience

  • Work and educational experience
  • Life experience
  • Motivation, initiative, independence
  • Reasons for pursuing residency training
  • Reasons for applying to the program

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Candidates are ranked by each interviewing doctor.  The averages of these rankings are used to determine the ranking order submitted by the program coordinator.  With concurrence between the chief and program coordinator, a candidate may be moved up or down from the overall objective ranking list based on the qualitative characteristics rating. The final list is submitted to ORMatch.        

Program Requirements

A summary outline of the requirements is as follows:

The resident must comply with all VA Salt Lake City Healthcare System and  program rules, regulations, procedures, protocols, and policies.

The resident must adhere to the schedule of assignments in a prompt and timely fashion.

The resident must provide patient care consistent with accepted clinical practice guidelines and within the parameters set forth by the optometry trainee’s supervision policy.

The resident must maintain a neat, well-groomed, professional appearance and wear a VA issued identification badge.

The resident must keep patient care records up to date.        

The resident must maintain and provide documentation of current basic life support (CPR) training and optometric licensure.

The resident will complete the requirements outlined in the goals and objectives for the program including:

                   The resident will complete at least 750 primary eye care evaluations.

                   The resident will complete 250 contact lens evaluations.

                   The resident will complete 30 specialized contact lens evaluations each quarter.

                   The resident will keep a patient log and report quarterly to the program director his/her progress.

                   The resident will attend at least 3 of 4 grand rounds or community lectures each month.

                   The resident will attend 60% of ophthalmology residency conferences.

                   The resident must complete and submit all quarterly and end of year program and faculty evaluations.

                   The resident will complete the scholarly project as required prior to the awarding of a residency completion certificate.

Salt Lake City Sky Line

Program Accreditation

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE - - 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd. - St. Louis, MO - 63141) granted the status of “accredited” for the program in 2016. The next currently scheduled site visit will take place in 04/2024.



Additional Employment Opportunities

“Moonlighting” is permitted with prior approval; Separate liability coverage must be obtained by the resident for external patient care outside of the VA.  Licensure in the State of Utah is also required.


The annual salary is established by the Office of Academic Affairs, VA Central Office and is currently set at $44,363


  • Health Insurance
  • Federal Holidays
  • Vacation -12 days of annual leave
  • Sick Leave – 12 days of sick leave
  • Liability – Liability coverage will be through the Federal Tort Act
  • Continuing Education – Time off is allowed for all reasonable CE commitments. 
  • Limited funding available to cover CE costs

Local Activities and Attractions

Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah and is known as the heart of the state.  It offers many historical and cultural activities as well as numerous outdoor adventures all in close proximity of the city.  From national parks such as Zion and being known as having “the greatest snow on earth”, Utah is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

Contact Information:

D. Lee Tanner, O.D.                                    Dale Woodfield, OD, FAAO

Residency Coordinator                                Associate Residency Coordinator

Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center   Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center

500 Foothill Drive                                        500 Foothill Drive

Salt Lake City, Utah 84148                            Salt Lake City, Utah 84148  

E-mail                                  E-mail


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 92831-7811


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