School in Focus: Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry

Located in northeast Oklahoma near the Illinois River and within the hills of the Ozarks lies the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry (NSUOCO). NSUOCO is located in a small town called Tahlequah, which happens to be the capitol of the Cherokee Nation. A NSUOCO partnership between NSUOCO and the Cherokee Nation provides an excellent patient base for students who attend the college. The faculty, students and residents of the college provide eye care for Cherokee Nation patients at ten facilities throughout northeast Oklahoma. Students rotate through seven of those facilities. The patient population served by the clinical facilities provides our students with experience in the care and management of a large quantity of diverse ocular and systemic conditions and diseases.

NSUOCO has the smallest class size of all optometry schools in the USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico.  Students applying to our school are vying for only 28 seats! With only 28 students per class, we are able to form incredibly close relationships with one another. We work together to get through the rigorous academic program our school has to offer. With the highly competitive application pool and a high level of NSUOCO teamwork, it is fairly uncommon for a student not to complete the program.

Having such a small school also creates a great opportunity for students to form a relationship with virtually everyone on campus. In fact, many of our students walk down to the administration wing between classes to get coffee and to socialize with our administrative staff.  Our school also has a community vegetable garden in which many students donate seeds, equipment, time and a little elbow grease. This hard work pays off when the fresh vegetables are ready to harvest! The NSUOCO “family” gathers for several yearly events (most of which involve delicious food!). We have all-school meetings twice a semester for all organizations to make various announcements. A Thanksgiving potluck dinner ALWAYS has a great turnout. We also have a yearly chili cook-off in which our entire school shows off their culinary skills. This event usually builds up with friendly competitive banter during the weeks before the competition.

As aforementioned, it is uncommon for a student to fail the program, but that doesn’t mean the program is a walk in the park. The course load for our school averages about 20 hours a semester.  NSUOCOThe faculty at NSUOCO is very dedicated to producing the best optometrists possible. Many of them take a clinical approach to teaching their classes. The lab sections at our school are very hands-on and each professor usually guides about 14 students through the lab at a time. NSUOCO is extremely dedicated to student success in both the clinical and the classroom setting. A tutoring system is ready to help any student who may be struggling with a particular class. This service is free to any student. The professors also allow the students to provide input on the order in which the final exams are scheduled each semester. This gives the opportunity to strategically organize the exams to allow more time to study between the more difficult exams.

There are multiple student organizations on our campus: The American Optometric Student AssociationStudents Volunteering Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH), the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, and Women in Optometry just to name a few. With only 112 total students, NSUOCO almost every student takes some sort of leadership role in an organization. NSUOCO is a phenomenal place to cultivate leadership skills. Students from our SVOSH group pictured to the left are from their recent optometric mission trip to Roatán, Honduras.

NSUOCO is excited to announce our newest addition to our family of clinics! The Lesley L. Walls Vision Center is operated by the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry to provide vision rehabilitation services to the Tulsa metropolitan area and northeastern Oklahoma. It’s located on the NSU campus at Broken Arrow, in suburban Tulsa. Low vision as well as vision therapy and neuro-optometric rehabilitation are provided. The clinic includes five exam rooms, one special testing room, two training areas and a dispensaryEquipment for the clinic is state-of-the art with scanning laser microperimetry and the latest in training equipment, including a Sanet Vision Integrator. A complete spectrum of low vision rehabilitation is offered, including occupational therapy, orientation and mobility and assistive technology. This is made possible by NSU’s partnership with NewView Oklahoma, whose personnel will provide services on site at the Walls Center and in the patients’ homes. We look forward to providing excellent services to the patients of northeastern Oklahoma and an unparalleled education opportunity for optometric students and residents at the Lesley L. Walls Vision Center (named for a former NSUOCO Dean, and who also served as Dean of Pacific University College of Optometry and President of SCCO).  With all of this excitement, it’s easy to see that it’s a great time to be a student at NSUOCO!



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