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UNC takes great pride in educating and cultivating residents who graduate with outstanding clinical and surgical skills, providing compassionate, patient-centered care. Our residents succeed in both fellowships and comprehensive practice (see “About Our Graduates”).  The curriculum has three principles in mind: early surgical exposure, longitudinal subspecialty learning, and empowering resident decision making.


PGY-1/ Internship:

This year is spent with UNC’s Department of Internal Medicine. Interns will spend four months on internal medicine inpatient units, one month of rheumatology, one month of research, and three months of medicine electives. Three months will be spent in ophthalmology rotating in clinics, subspecialty ORs, and hospital consults. Extensive exposure in ophthalmology facilitates “hitting the ground running” as a resident.


PGY-2/First-year resident:

Residents begin with an orientation and an introduction course covering terminology, management of common ocular diseases and emergencies, use of instruments and examination techniques. PGY-2 residents spend three months on oculoplastics, pediatrics, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, and hospital consults. On the consult service, residents also participate in UNC comprehensive service clinics and observe community ophthalmologists for career exploration purposes. The hospital consult service has a wide range of pathologies as UNC’s hospital is a level one trauma center, the referral burn center for NC, and a tertiary referral center for complex ocular conditions. This results in extensive exposure to amniotic membrane grafts, tarsorrhaphies, canthotomy/cantholysis, and anterior chamber and vitreous taps.

*Note, one of the PGY-2 residents ends with the cataract rotation and does pediatrics rotation as a PGY-3 resident.


PGY-3/Second-year resident:

PGY-3 residents rotate through hospital consults, retina, cataract surgery, and the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Fayetteville. On the retina rotation, residents become proficient in laser panretinal photocoagulation and intravitreal injections, and they are introduced to techniques of core vitrectomy. On the cataract rotation with Dr. Cohen, residents usually perform their first 50 cataract surgeries as primary surgeon and learn basic and advanced surgical techniques like divide & conquer and chopping. The VA rotation typically results in an additional 50 cataracts as primary surgeon. While in Fayetteville, residents stay at an apartment (free of charge) that is safe and well equipped for a comfortable stay.


PGY-4/Third-year resident:

The goals of this year are to learn complex anterior segment subjects of cornea and glaucoma with two rotations at the VA (six months). Residents usually graduate with 200-250 cataracts and perform pterygium surgeries and glaucoma drainage device surgeries.



Representative Block Schedule


PGY-2 July- Sep Oct-Dec Jan- Mar Apr-Jun
Resident 1 Consults Neuro Oculoplastics Cataract
Resident 2 Peds Consults Neuro Oculoplastics
Resident 3 Oculoplastics Peds Consults Neuro
Resident 4 Neuro Oculoplastics Cataract Consults
Resident 1 VA Retina Consults Peds
Resident 2 Cataract VA Retina Consults
Resident 3 Consults Cataract VA Retina
Resident 4 Retina Consults Cataract VA
Resident 1 VA Cornea Glaucoma VA
Resident 2 Glaucoma VA Cornea VA
Resident 3 VA Glaucoma VA Cornea
Resident 4 Cornea VA VA Glaucoma