Published on November 16, 2015

New ocular disease residency program

Optometry develops new residency program Gundersen's Vision Services department, including optometry and ophthalmology, has been rapidly expanding because of increased patient demand and as a result, there is an amplified need for highly-skilled, compassionate eye care providers. The new Optometry Residency Program was created to do just that.

Kristen Reirson, OD

Kristen Reirson, OD

Kristen Reierson, OD, is the first optometrist in the new residency program and is thrilled to be at Gundersen fulfilling her vision of providing great eye care, at the Gundersen Eye Clinics in La Crosse and Viroqua, Wis., and Decorah, Iowa.

"As the optometry resident, I am a fully licensed optometrist who is pursuing an additional year of education to specialize in ocular disease," explains Dr. Reierson. "I function just like all of the other optometrists at Gundersen, with the added ability to seek guidance on a complex case."

Dr. Reierson provides primary eye care—such as glasses and contact prescriptions—as well as ocular disease management. She cares for patients with glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes and assists other doctors in the department with walk-in emergency eye care.

"This is the start of a wonderful educational program," Dr. Reierson says. "The eye department already offers extensive and comprehensive services and I will be another provider— hopefully with a shorter wait time for appointments."

Dr. Reierson cared for patients at the Gundersen Decorah Eye Clinic as a fourth-year optometry student. "I think this organization is a place that treats patients with compassion along with providing superior care," she says. "The Love + Medicine motto is something that I strive to achieve as a provider. So when this residency opportunity was presented to me, I was very excited to be able to work here."

She also has a vision of community service above self. She participated in a 2014 Gundersen Global Partners vision trip to Nicaragua and plans to go again in November to provide eye care and glasses to Nicaraguans who live in under-resourced areas and have limited access to eye care. Kristen Reierson, OD, is seeing patients as Gundersen's first optometry resident

She earned her Doctorate of Optometry at Indiana University School of Optometry and her BS at University of Iowa.

"Dr. Reierson is doing an outstanding job," says Jennifer Gipp, OD, residency program co-director. "She is highly competent in her clinical skills and her exceptional care has been greatly appreciated by her patients. In addition to her outstanding clinical work, she also recently had a case study accepted to present at the American Academy of Optometry Meeting in October.

"We are thrilled to have Dr. Reierson as our first Optometry resident and look forward to building the program in the coming years."

About the program

The Optometry Residency in Ocular Disease program was created after Jeffrey Clark, OD; John Sterling, OD; and Jennifer Gipp, OD, met to discuss the importance of exposing students to the outstanding learning environment, state-of-the art facilities and exceptional patient care provided at Gundersen Health System.

It is all made possible through Gundersen Medical Foundation. Optometry residents have the opportunity to observe cataract, refractive, glaucoma, oculoplastic, and retinal surgeries and work with retinal specialists, glaucoma specialists, corneal specialists and in the Traumatic Brain Injury/Low Vision Clinic.

The primary goal is to deliver education that exposes residents to cutting-edge technology in Gundersen's highly respected Ophthalmology/Optometry Clinic and in Gundersen's multidisciplinary healthcare setting.

Drs. Gipp and Sterling are program co-directors. "We recognize the need to train future providers to ensure high quality care for our patients in the future," says Dr. Gipp. "We have had wonderful support from the entire eye department and from Gundersen Medical Foundation and Medical Education."

The optometry resident sees her/his own patients and is responsible for their care and management, with the guidance of attending physicians. To instill a commitment to lifelong learning, dedication to optometry and to expose them to inter-professional educational opportunities, a resident will:

  • Attend lectures on campus
  • Conduct a research project or case study
  • Attend continuing education conferences

The one-year program is affiliated with Indiana University School of Optometry. Selection for the residency occurs via the ORMatch Website and graduates from all optometry schools are eligible to apply.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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