Skip to main content

Residency Profile: Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, Tucson, AZ

Residency Programs
Residency in Ocular Disease with an emphasis in Vision Rehabilitation

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System Exterior Building Photo

Established: 1995

Positions: Four

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System
3601 S. 6th Ave (11-112A)
Tucson, AZ  85723

Program Faculty

Danielle L. Weiler, OD, FAAO, Dipl. (CEC)

Attending Faculty

  • Amy L. Grimes, OD, FAAO
  • Huey-Fen Song, OD, FAAO
  • Alyon J. (Wasik) Marion, OD, FAAO
  • Carla Engelke, OD, FAAO
  • Amanda Mendez Roberts, OD, FAAO
  • Suzzane Li, OD, FAAO
  • Shaun G. Brennan, OD

Virtual Tour

For a virtual tour of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System facilities, please click here.

Mission Statement

The fundamental mission of this training program is to have post-doctoral optometric practitioners attain the advanced competencies and specialty skills needed to effectively manage the eye, vision, and related health care needs of the population served by SAVAHCS.

Program Description

The residency is a one year post-graduate training program from July 1 - June 30.  Optometry residents provide patient care in two locations within the medical center campus. The eye clinic at SAVAHCS is shared jointly between optometry and ophthalmology, which provides the residents with the opportunity to manage a spectrum of ocular disease.  SAVAHCS hosts the Southwestern Blind Rehabilitation Center (SWBRC), which provides world class interdisciplinary vision rehabilitation to legally blind and visually impaired veterans across the US.

Program Goals

  1. Ensure that each resident develops advanced ocular disease management skills.
  2. Ensure that each resident develops advanced management skills in the specialty of low vision care.
  3. Educate each resident to optometry’s role as a contributing member of each patient’s health care team.
  4. Educate each resident on his/her potential and the means to serve/advance the profession.
  5. Instill in each resident an appreciation for the importance of ongoing professional development.

Program Objectives

1.1: Each resident will effectively manage patients that are representative of the population provided services in the Eye Clinic totaling at least 1200 patient encounters.
1.2: Each resident will serve as the Chief Resident with the responsibility to triage walk-in/urgent care cases and provide proper follow-up.
1.3: Each resident will demonstrate proficiency in advanced eye/vision care procedures as defined in the Resident Supervision Policy.
2.1: Each resident will become proficient in advanced low vision care.
2.2: Each resident will manage a spectrum of patients that are representative of the population provided services in the BRC totaling 80 unique patients
2.3: Each resident will observe the integration of low vision devices within blind rehabilitation disciplines.
3.1: Provide each resident an orientation at matriculation regarding optometry’s role in the SAVAHCS health care team model.
3.2: Each resident has the opportunity to provide care in a multidisciplinary setting lending to communication with other clinical services (e.g., primary care, neurology, rheumatology, radiology, laboratory) as indicated by a patient's clinical presentation and observational rotations through medical subspecialty clinics (e.g., neurology, endocrinology, vascular, and emergency department).
3.3: Each eye clinic resident will attend at least three medical educational presentations quarterly.
4.1: Each resident will be introduced to opportunities for involvement in state and national professional organizations including mentorship towards becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO).
4.2: Each resident will develop a clinical case report outline and abstract with the resident being encouraged to submit for AAO Residents Day or comparable venue.
4.3: Each resident will prepare a manuscript of publishable quality.
4.4: Each resident will prepare and present a continuing education lecture.
4.5: Each resident will be introduced to future career opportunities.
5.1: Each resident will be highly encouraged to attend one preferably national optometric conference.
5.2: Each resident will participate in weekly didactic activities including but not limited to journal club, case presentations, and chart review.

Typical Daily or Weekly Schedule in Clinic

Normal duty hours are 7:30am-4:00pm Monday through Friday (clinical patient care activities may conclude after 4:00pm on some days). There are no on-call, evening or weekend assignments. The program is 90% direct patient care and 10% didactic in nature. 

    Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
AM EYE CLINIC R1/R2/R3 R1/R2/R3 R1/R2/R3 R1/R2/R3 R1/R2/R3/R4
SWBRC R4 R4 R4 R4  
PM EYE CLINIC R1, R2, R3 R1, R2, R3 R1, R2, R3 R1, R2, R3 R1/R2/R3/R4:
Education - Friday Afternoons (all residents)
Medical Management Conference – 2nd & 4th Tuesday 12:00-1:00pm, Auditorium (Eye Clinic Residents: R1, R2, R3)


Resident Activities

Clinical Experience: Eye Clinic

  • 3 months as Chief Resident, 3 months as Assistant Chief Resident, 3 months as Intake Resident
  • Schedule dependent upon rotation:
    • At least 12 scheduled patients per day (every half-hour)
    • Flexibility to schedule follow-up appointments
  • Serve as entry point for all eye care
  • Manage walk-in and urgent care cases
  • Large number of patients with diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration
  • Manage the majority of glaucoma patients and refer to ophthalmology for surgical intervention
  • Close interaction with ophthalmology residents and direct consultation with attending subspecialty ophthalmologist
    • Corneal Specialist, Glaucoma Specialist, Neuro-Ophthalmologist, Oculoplastics, Retinal Specialist
  • Perform & interpret auxiliary testing
  • Prescribe wide array of topical and oral therapeutics
  • Order systemic work-up as indicated by patient presentation
  • Easily refer to other health disciplines

Clinical Experience: SWBRC

  • SWBRC fosters a unique multidisciplinary team approach to comprehensive inpatient low vision rehabilitation
    • Resident examines all veterans the week of admission of the program
      • Evaluate ocular health
      • Perform low vision device evaluation
      • Make recommendations for training with low vision instructor
    • Resident is a member of the interdisciplinary team and attends weekly planning meetings
  • Outpatient Low Vision Clinic: provides low vision care to visually impaired veterans in an outpatient setting
  • Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic: provides experience evaluating, diagnosing, and managing TBI-related vision disorders

Didactic Experience

  • Opportunity to precept optometry externs from SCCO/MBKU and OSU.
    • Time spent in this capacity is modest
    • Carried out under the supervision of program faculty
  • Weekly education meeting  on Friday afternoon
    • Ophthalmic Lecture Series
    • Monthly Journal Club
    • Quarterly Case Presentations
    • Chart Review
  • Opportunity to attend Medicine-based Education Lectures twice a month
  • Medical sub-specialty rotations including but not limited to neurology, endocrinology, and vascular lab
  • Highly encouraged to attend a national optometric meeting (AAO or AOA)

Scholarly Activities

  • Professional development time
    • On-site Medical Library
    • Online access to VA Library and SCCO M.B. Ketchum Library
  • Complete a paper of publishable quality
  • Develop submission for American Academy of Optometry’s Residents Day
    • Poster or Paper presentation if accepted at AAO Annual Meeting
  • Develop and present a continuing education lecture in the spring

Completion Requirements

  1. Completion and submission of all SCCO/MBKU required paperwork to the Residency Coordinator (Dr. Weiler) and SCCO/MBKU (Diana Dicdican/Dr. Tong):
    -  Quarterly Patient Encounter & Diagnosis Log (generated from VA electronic medical record system)
    - Quarterly Faculty Evaluations
    - Quarterly Program Evaluations
    - Quarterly Resident Referral Log
    - Quarterly Resident Activity Log
    - Quarterly Resident Reading Log
    - End of the Year Evaluation of Program
    - Certification of Completion of Residency Requirements
    - Resident Contact Address after Completion

  2. Minimum number of patient encounters:
    - 1200 total encounters in Eye Clinic
    - 80 unique encounters in SWBRC (inpatient & outpatient low vision and TBI)

  3. Be present for Resident Orientation which may occur the week prior to July 1 start date

  4. Be present for the complete academic year from July 1 through June 30 for the entire tour of duty except on approved vacation, sick, or authorized absence days.

  5. Provide quality, compassionate, ethical care to all veterans

  6. Obtain state licensure

  7. Serve as the Chief Eye Clinic Resident for a three-month period

  8. Participate in the Optometry Education Meetings on Friday afternoons

  9. Observe the integration of low vision devices within blind rehabilitation disciplines (orientation mobility, living skills, and manual skills)

  10. Rotate through pertinent medical sub-specialty services

  11. Attend Medicine-based Education Lectures

  12. Develop a clinical case report outline and abstract to understand the submission process of an academic meeting

  13. Prepare a manuscript of publishable quality

  14. Prepare and present a continuing education lecture (can be developed from #12)

Admission Prerequisites

  • OD degree from School or College of Optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE)
  • Passage of NBEO part I and II prior to ORMatch date
  • United States citizenship by congressional law

Application Process

  • ORMatch application by February 14
    • Letter of Intent
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Unofficial Transcripts from Optometric Education
    • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Supplemental materials to Dr. Weiler
    • Unofficial Transcripts of NBEO scores
  • Interview, typically in person but occasionally via phone or videoconference, based upon quality of credentials and supporting documents

COVID-19 Pandemic

We understand the challenges the current COVID-19 pandemic has posed to the administration of the NBEO Part I, Part II and Part III. Therefore, at this time, we are suspending the admission prerequisite of having passed Part I and Part II of NBEO prior to the ORMatch date. Additionally, all interviews will be held virtually via video-teleconferencing rather than in-person to avoid the need to travel.

Selection Process

The residency coordinator and faculty members decide which candidates to rank for the match and determine the sequential ranking of those candidates based upon the application materials, interview, and letters of recommendation. Final candidate selections are reviewed by the Chief of Optometry and the approved list is submitted to ORMatch by the Residency Coordinator. ORMatch contacts the Residency Coordinator with the results of the match who informs the Residency Director at SCCO/MBKU of the results. Note: all residency applicants will be evaluated without regard to sex, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, creed, age, national origin, disability, marital status, or any other applicable legally protected status.


$35,438 – as determined by VA central office, is not contingent upon productivity.


Health The resident is offered health insurance options (premiums vary depending on selected coverage).
Holidays There are 10 Federal holidays – New Year’s Day, MLK Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
Leave The resident accrues annual and sick leave. Additionally, the resident is provided authorized absence to attend one national meeting.
Liability Professional liability is covered by the VA under the Federal Tort System.
Information Resources There is a small library of books located within the eye clinic as well as a friendly-staffed library on the VA campus. Additionally, the resident has online access to the VA Medical Library and SCCO at MBKU M. B. Ketchum Library.


Program Accreditation

The Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) continued the status of “accredited” for the program in 2017. The next currently scheduled site visit is September 2026.


There is no housing provided.

Local Activities and Attractions

  • Population: 1 million, Arizona’s second largest city, Hispanic & Native American influences
  • Year-round warm climate
  • Numerous top-rated resorts, spas and golf courses
  • Multiple outdoor activities: hiking and cycling 
  • Tucson International Airport: 8 carriers currently offering 65 nonstop departures to 19 cities and connections to 345 destinations
  • University of Arizona: 35,000 students
  • Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo
  • Attractions: Pima Air & Space Museum, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Arizona Opera & Theater Company, Biosphere,
  • Kitt Peak Observatory, Saguaro National Park
  • Southern Arizona Attractions: Casa Grande Ruins, Tombstone, Chiricahua National Monument, Kartchner Caverns, Organ Pipe National Park

Contact Info

Danielle L. Weiler, OD, FAAO, Dipl. (CEC)
Residency Coordinator
3601 S. 6th Ave (11-112A)
Tucson, AZ 85723
520.792.1450 x 1-5419 • Fax: 520.629.4808 •

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
714.463.7568 • Fax: 714.992.7871 • Email: