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Faculty Member Contacts

Daniel Rubinstein
Associate Residency Program Director
Director of Medical Student Education
Assistant Professor
Note: All students with significant interest in applying to ophthalmology should meet with Dr. Rubinstein

Don Budenz
Kittner Family Distinguished Professor and Chairman

David Fleischman
Assistant Professor

FAQs/Course Recommendations/Additional Info

How do students get assigned a career goal advisor?
Dr. Daniel Rubinstein is the career goal advisor.  Students may also receive their career goal advisor from their clinical research mentors.

What should my Individualization Phase look like?

Recommended Courses:

AI/Acting InternshipCC/Critical CareACS/Advanced Clinical SelectiveElectives
Internal Medicine, Surgery, or Emergency MedicineNeurocritical Care, Burns, PICU, NICUAdvanced Clinical Ophthalmology, Endocrinology, Rheumatology, ENT, OMFS, Geriatrics, NeurologyOphthalmology, ENT, Endocrinology, Head and Neck Surgery/Oncology, Neurology, International Electives

Do all my rotations need to be in Ophthalmology?

Should I do an away rotation?  What in?
Yes. A rotation in ophthalmology with a program at which you’re interested in matching can serve as an audition. Rotating in different regions can also indicate your interest in matching into programs in different parts of the country.

Do I need a rotation at UNC if I spent my time in Charlotte/Asheville/Wilmington?
This is not necessary, but it is suggested – the more time you spend with our ophthalmology
department, the more strongly and specifically we can support your application.

When do I need to meet with my career goal advisor?  How do I prepare?
As soon as you’re committed to Ophthalmology. Know your own CV, some up with a general plan for your application, and have specific/strategic questions in mind for your advisor.

How many letters of recommendation do I need?  From whom should I get them?
Three letters, at least one from an ophthalmologist. All should know you VERY WELL.

When do I ask for my letters?  What do they need?
Ask for letters with ample notice to your letter writers – at least 8 weeks prior to the application deadline. They will need a copy of your CV and may ask to speak with you further about the specifics of your interests and career goals.

How do I determine the best programs I should apply to?
Be realistic about your application, and match programs to your CV. If your strong point is research, apply to research institutions. If your strong point is service, apply to community- based programs or those with significant underserved patient populations. If your scores and grades are borderline compared to the published ophthalmology match statistics, apply broadly to improve your chances.

I just got this great piece of news…do I need to notify programs
Not unless the news is really earth-shattering – national-level grants or awards, new patents, etc. Updates are unlikely to be read once interview invites are sent out.

I am waitlisted for an interview at X and I’d really like to see that program.  What do I do?
Email with a “letter of interest” detailing your specific and compelling reasons for interest. New pieces of info or relevant updates could be helpful in these letters.

I didn’t get an interview at X program.  Should I send them a “letter of intent”?
A letter of interest would be better received. See above.

Should I send thank you letters to programs?
Yes, this is important. Send one to at least the PD, but preferably to each faculty member who took the time to interview you. Try to be specific about aspects of your conversation and mention specific pieces of information from the interview day that bolstered your interest. Be
sure to send these out in timely fashion – rank lists are completed fairly quickly.

Should I send a letter to the program I am planning to rank #1?
Yes, and you can feel free to state this in the letter. Again, be specific about your reasons for interest and why you intend to rank that program #1. DO NOT send this kind of letter to more than one program – ophthalmology is a very small community, and manipulative maneuvers (i.e., telling multiple programs that they are your #1) can have long-lasting negative effects on your career. Do not expect a specific reciprocal statement of interest in response – most programs keep their interests private.

How do I respond if a program reaches out to me after my interview?
This is usually a sign of interest from the program. Be gracious and professional, even if that particular program is not at the top of your rank list. Avoid engaging in any match violations. Use this information to your advantage when constructing your rank list.

Match Process Overview

Residency in ophthalmology is a 3-year course of training and is considered an “advanced” because it begins in PGY-2. The ophthalmology match is facilitated by SF Match and is separate from the main NRMP match used by most other specialties. The ophthalmology application and matching process is highly competitive and occurs earlier than the main match – the target date for application completion and submission is usually in early September of the applicants’ 4th year, with interviews throughout the Fall and early Winter. Match results are usually available in January. Please see the SF Match ophthalmology match website ( for specific application requirements as well as timetables for upcoming match cycles and match statistics from previous cycles.

All trainees are required to complete a 1-year internship program prior to beginning their ophthalmology residency. Historically, this meant applying and interviewing for a transitional year or a preliminary PGY-1 year in medicine, surgery, family medicine, or pediatrics separately from the ophthalmology match. As of 2023, many ophthalmology residencies have either joint or integrated relationships with a specific internship program. Joint residencies are separate training programs with separate application processes that have an agreement to match the same applicants. Ophthalmology residencies that have joint internships require separate applications through SF match for the ophthalmology portion and through ERAS for the internship portion. Integrated programs do not require a separate application, and the entire application and match process is handled by SF Match. Some integrated or joint programs may require their prospective residents to interview with faculty from the internship year as part of their selection process. Given the current heterogeneity in the structure of the relationships between internship programs and advanced ophthalmology residencies, all ophthalmology applicants are encouraged to register for and prepare applications through both SF match and ERAS/NRMP so that they have the option to apply to both joint and integrated programs.