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Lauren Rushing, Class of 2019, on a Trip to Ghana

“It’s really great for residents to see healthcare delivered in a setting with reduced resources. We take so much for granted in the American healthcare environment while most of the world practices with much less. I think the main benefit of the rotation, though, is to provide future ophthalmologists with a vision of what they can do by volunteering for similar trips when they finish their training.”
– Donald Budenz, Glaucoma Specialist and UNC Ophthalmology Chair, Trip to Ghana

UNC has a unique opportunity for each resident to pursue a 2-week international elective during the PGY-3 year. The Office of Global Health and the Lions Club provide funding for the trip. You may choose to join a trip planned by one of our faculty members or tread your path anywhere in the world.

Our residents have gone to the following locations with UNC faculty members:

Jan Niklas Ulrich, China
Kenneth Cohen, Vietnam
Donald Budenz, Ghana

Our residents have created their own elective opportunities:

Bryan Strelow, Glaucoma in Thailand
Karishma Habbu, Uveitis at the Aravind Eye Center in India
Oleg Alekseev, Retinal Genetic Disease in Belgium
Ryan O’Melia, General Ophthalmology in Rural Peru
Sailu Bondalapati, General Ophthalmology in India

Resident Experience:


“Traveling to Tema was an eye-opening and truly enriching experience that shaped my perception for ophthalmology on a holistic level and revealed to me how lack of resources causes such hardship on the local population. It was shocking to me that there are only approximately 90 ophthalmologists in one of the more advanced countries in Africa and emphasized to me the importance of giving back to those who are in need. This humbling cultural exchange has instilled in me a passion for international medicine that I wish to pursue upon completion of my training.”

– Basil Mathews, Class of 2022, Trip to Ghana

Donald Budenz, Glaucoma Specialist and Chairman on a Trip to Ghana“Having the opportunity to remove myself from American culture and the US healthcare system provided not only unique perspectives on the practice of ophthalmology internationally, but enriched my own personal sense of living as a global citizen, and provided a humbling cross-cultural exchange that allowed me to feel grateful for my experiences and motivated to give-back to the international community.”

– Bryan Strelow, Class of 2021, Trip to Thailand

“My international rotation was a career-defining experience – I traveled to South India to work with a world renowned expert in infectious uveitis. My experience there solidified my decision to pursue a career in uveitis and gave me both lifelong mentors and friends.”

– Karishma Habbu, Class of 2021, Trip to India

Lauren Rushing, Class of 2019, on a Trip to Ghana

“Traveling to Ghana in 2018 really shaped my perception of the field of ophthalmology on a global scale. While in Ghana, I was privileged to speak at a meeting of OSG, Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, regarding ophthalmology resident education in the United States. I was able to interact with Ghanaian residents and discuss strengths and weaknesses of residency education in each country. Working in the Tema Christian Eye Center clinic for a week also taught me the importance of expertise in observational clinical diagnosis and surgical eye care. In Ghana, there are only 90 practicing ophthalmologists serving a country of 26 million people. The importance of giving back to patients in need, domestic or abroad, will now be a focal point of my career in ophthalmology.”

– Lauren Rushing, Class of 2019, Trip to Ghana

Click here to read about 2022-2023 2nd-year resident Dr. Uzo Anugo’s experience during a two-week international rotation at the Tema Christian Eye Center in Ghana learning to surgically treat advanced glaucoma.