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Guide To Optometry Residency Preparation

Congratulations, Residents! You’ve made it past ‘The Match’ and are now ready to begin an exciting journey with a new optometry residency program.

Amongst the 11 areas of emphasis, you have found what drives your passion and amongst the 235 ACOE accredited residency programs, found the one that supports it.

In the next few months, you will be contacted by your program coordinators with specific requirements that need to be completed before beginning the residency.

Here are some general guidelines and a way for you to jump start the process!

Note: If you are doing a VA residency the only requirements that you are subject to are being a citizen, obtaining an NPI, getting an active license in a state with a broader scope than VA Optometry scope, and a CPR certification.

Step 1: Get your license in the state where you will be practicing.

Many states require a licensing exam which, if failed once, may require a few months gap period before you can re-take it.

You will likely need to obtain another set of fingerprints and DOJ background check. This can be completed at your local police station, or if you are near a major public university, there are on campus departments that can also complete it for you.

Check out the ultimate guide on how to get your license in all 50 states!

For those of you who are planning on practicing in a different state after residency, beware of the renewal policy before obtaining a license in that state. For example, California optometry licenses have 2 year renewal periods that are determined by your birthday, not date of approval. This means if you obtain a license in June and your birthday is in July, your first “year” ends in a month. Since you are required to complete your CE every 2 years, by the time your next birthday comes, you will need to pay a renewal fee and finish all your CE.

Step 2: Obtain your NPI

National Provider Identifier a.k.a NPI is a unique 10-digit identification number issued to health care providers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services mandates that all individuals who meet the definition of health care provider and who bill Medicare for services is to obtain a National Provider Identifier (NPI).

Here is a guide on how to obtain yours!

Step 3: Obtain your DEA certificate

DEA number is provided to healthcare providers to give them the ability to write prescriptions for controlled substances. Contact your residency director to ensure that, as a resident, you are exempt from the DEA filing fee.

Step 4: Get on insurance panels

Based on the nature of your residency, you will be signing up for a few of the widely used insurances. Ask your coordinator what/if insurance credentialing is required of you.

Here are some ones that everyone generally needs.

  1. Apply to be a Medicare provider: Required for many insurance panels. Check out this in-depth guide.
  2. Apply to be a Medi-Cal provider.
  3. Complete your CAQH profile: important for insurance panels to add you as a provider of VSP, EyeMed, etc. Check out this guide!

Step 5: Find housing

Most programs begin July 1st and end June 30th. However, there are some programs that begin in the last week of June to create an overlap between outgoing and incoming residents. So before you take that month long euro-trip, identify which one of the two you fall under! Connect with the residents from your programs and use resources like Optometry Student Network to connect with other students that may be doing a residency in a similar location who will also be on that residency budget!

Check out this great video and article on optometry residency preparation.
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About Sloan Rajadhyksha

Sloan Rajadhyksha
I am a California native and ocean enthusiast, currently completing my fourth year at UC Berkeley, School of Optometry. My passion in optometry lies with private practice and helping students gather resources to feel comfortable about practice management after graduation. This has shaped my involvement in various organizations within optometry including SOLutioN, Optometrystudents.com and Optometry Student Network which each service as an unique platform for optometry students.

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