Army optometrists have war and peace time demands that would be best handled by residency trained optometrists. The needs and benefits of having residency trained individuals were obtained from information gathered by questionnaires which were sent to optometrists who served in Viet Nam (VN) and Operation Desert Storm (ODS), along with the Chiefs of each Army optometry clinic, Optometry College/School Residency Directors and the Director, Optometry Service, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Additional supporting evidence was gathered from the Army and the literature. In spite of the broad clinical practices performed by Army optometrists during peace time, about 50% used new medications, performed new procedures and treated new patient conditions during Operation Desert Storm. Eighty-eight percent of the VN OD's and 69% of the ODS OD's stated a residency program would have better prepared them for their war time mission. Significant cost savings have been documented with the reduction of referrals by a residency trained Army optometrist. Although 79% of the residency directors stated that their residents received nothing new beyond the four year optometry program, there were many matches between the Army optometrists' needs and the residency training.
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