Preceptorship (Extern) Program

An optometry student enrolled in a school or college of optometry that is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education and which has contracted with a North Carolina optometry practice as an external training site is eligible for this status. The student applicant when approved will be referred to as a preceptee or extern. The optometrist providing the training to the extern is considered the preceptor or supervising optometrist and the program is considered a preceptorship or externship. 

An optometrist seeking licensure who holds a doctor of optometry degree from an accredited school or college of optometry and who has never been licensed previously by the Board  should refer to the Board’s Policy on Intern Permits

An optometrist who has been previously licensed by the  Board but whose license is no longer active, has been relinquished, was not renewed, or has been revoked should refer to the Board’s Policy on Reinstatement or Restoration of License

The following criteria must be met before an extern can begin an externship:


Externship authority:

Pursuant to section 90-115.1(3) of the General Statutes of North Carolina, the Board may allow the extern to render services and perform procedures that a duly licensed North Carolina optometrist may perform, provided that such are performed “at the direction and under the direct supervision” of a North Carolina licensed optometrist. Ordinarily, such approval will be given by the Board only to persons who have an opportunity to work under the supervision of a North Carolina licensed optometrist in order to gain additional clinical experience. 

“At the direction and under the supervision of” shall be applied to the facts of each particular situation in which an extern performs optometric procedures which otherwise may be performed only by a regularly licensed optometrist. The supervising optometrist assumes the responsibility for the extern and therefore can and should direct what services and procedures can be performed by the extern.

Responsibilities of the supervising optometrist, extern, and optometry school:

Acknowledging responsibilities of the externship:

Both the supervising optometrist and the student’s school or college of optometry must register with the Board any such externship. 

Term of an externship:

Traditional externship programs are usually the length of a school semester or quarter. If an externship will last longer than six (6) months, the Board should be advised. 

Supervising optometrist subject to discipline:

The licensed supervising optometrist is subject to discipline under the provisions of, inter alia, G.S. 90-121.2 and relevant Board rules should she fail to practice in a manner which complies with this Policy.