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See the world, help the world see.

ICO students spend their entire fourth year putting their clinical skills to use. We proudly offer more than 155 affiliated externship sites in 44 states and 5 countries (Australia, Canada, China, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.) Besides choosing the location of their externship, students also choose from a variety of practice settings, including OD/MD practices, private and group practices, military sites, Veterans Administration hospitals, community health centers, and clinics on Native American reservations. Externships are a fantastic way to see the nation and the world, all while applying top-notch vision care.

Fourth years spend three of their four rotations away from ICO. One of those rotations must be spent at a Veterans Administration Hospital. The fourth is completed at the ICO’s clinic, the Illinois Eye Institute.

Hickman Externship
Hickman Externship

The mission of our externship program is to provide you with a varied and diverse experience in all of optometry’s specialized areas such as primary care, contact lenses, pediatrics/binocular vision, advanced care, and low vision rehabilitation. Many of the externship sites involve multidisciplinary care, which is instrumental in developing well-rounded clinicians.

The externship selection process lets students prioritize their favorite sites. Based on their preferences and curriculum needs, our future optometrists are matched with a location. The selection process is random to allow for fairness. Of course, ICO’s students are all about collaboration. This creates flexibility in the process, allowing some students to switch sites before the schedule is finalized.