Baller2016

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2016
18
16
There's a similar thread running in the EM/radiology/anesthesia/surgery forums with some great and informative responses. I know there's a lot of talk here about the general future of this specialty, but I think people would enjoy hearing from current young and older ophthalmology attendings how things actually are for you (aside from the whole covid thing). I fear the responses may not be as robust as other forums since it’s usually quieter here, relatively. Nonetheless, here we go:)

Are you happy working as an ophthalmologist (0-10)?
What was your reason for going into ophthalmology in the first place?
Did you decide to do a fellowship? Why or why not?
Do you like your hours? Do you feel like you have enough time with your family/other interests?
Do you work in an academic center or private practice? Have you ever switched from one to the other, if so why?
Do you feel fairly compensated?
Would you mind sharing rough approximate of your compensation?
Would you choose ophthalmology again?
If you HAD to choose a different specialty, what would it be?
Anything else you'd like to share?
 

DrZeke

yzarc gniog ylwolS
15+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2005
2,662
571
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Are you happy working as an ophthalmologist (0-10)?
8/10

What was your reason for going into ophthalmology in the first place?
Thought it was awesome all round. Unique skill set, expert in a niche area. Fun surgeries, and in office procedures. Patients really care about their vision and you can help them with something that you don't have to convince them is important. Visits have a lot of immediate gratification where we can make diagnoses by looking or getting in office tests quickly. Rare cases with life and death. Mostly outpatient.

Did you decide to do a fellowship? Why or why not?
Yes, I wanted to do retina, it's what attracted to me to ophthalmology is the first place. I also did uveitis, because you get to see a lot of cool diseases.

Do you like your hours? Yes. Do you feel like you have enough time with your family/other interests? Yes

Do you work in an academic center or private practice? Have you ever switched from one to the other, if so why?
I am finishing fellowship and going to academics.

Do you feel fairly compensated?
I think my starting salary is fair, though I will see how I feel in a few years.

Would you mind sharing rough approximate of your compensation?

Would you choose ophthalmology again?
Yes

If you HAD to choose a different specialty, what would it be?

Anything else you'd like to share?
 

Baller2016

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2016
18
16
Are you happy working as an ophthalmologist (0-10)?
8/10

What was your reason for going into ophthalmology in the first place?
Thought it was awesome all round. Unique skill set, expert in a niche area. Fun surgeries, and in office procedures. Patients really care about their vision and you can help them with something that you don't have to convince them is important. Visits have a lot of immediate gratification where we can make diagnoses by looking or getting in office tests quickly. Rare cases with life and death. Mostly outpatient.

Did you decide to do a fellowship? Why or why not?
Yes, I wanted to do retina, it's what attracted to me to ophthalmology is the first place. I also did uveitis, because you get to see a lot of cool diseases.

Do you like your hours? Yes. Do you feel like you have enough time with your family/other interests? Yes

Do you work in an academic center or private practice? Have you ever switched from one to the other, if so why?
I am finishing fellowship and going to academics.

Do you feel fairly compensated?
I think my starting salary is fair, though I will see how I feel in a few years.

Would you mind sharing rough approximate of your compensation?

Would you choose ophthalmology again?
Yes

If you HAD to choose a different specialty, what would it be?

Anything else you'd like to share?
Thank you Dr. Zeke!!!
 
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Baller2016

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2016
18
16
Responder would like to remain anonymous:


Are you happy working as an ophthalmologist (0-10)? 8.5/10.

What was your reason for going into ophthalmology in the first place? Balance of surgery and clinic, ability to significantly improve quality of life and protect sight which leads to many good outcomes and happy patients. I felt on many of my rotations that many other specialties have to deal with a higher proportion of unhappy, sick patients for which even the very best care led often to suboptimal or poor outcomes.

Did you decide to do a fellowship? Why or why not?
Yes, glaucoma fellowship. Enjoyed the variety of procedures while maintaining the ability to perform cataracts. Enjoy the longer lasting relationships with patients. It is interesting enough a specialty to me without being too stressful, most of the time.

Do you like your hours? Do you feel like you have enough time with your family/other interests?
Yes, I work around 45 hours a week. Call situations rarely arise. Plenty of time for family, hobbies, downtime.

Do you work in an academic center or private practice? Have you ever switched from one to the other, if so why? I work in an efficient academic practice in the Midwest.

Do you feel fairly compensated?
Yes, for my volume. I see about 100-120 patients/week and perform 15-20 surgeries/week. At peak, I would like to see that come up to 160-200 patients and 25-30 surgeries. You'll always know of exceptions where anterior segment docs are generating >1MM and don't seem to work that hard but those opportunities are few and far between and sometimes in somewhat undesirable locations. Also keep in mind, managing a private practice can take a lot more work than it seems. Finally, comparison is the thief of joy.

Would you mind sharing rough approximate of your compensation?
Last year, 450k+. This year, was on pace for ~600k, but outlook now closer to 350-400k with COVID shutdown/slowdown. When practice is mature, would expect 800k+ based on current comp plan.

Would you choose ophthalmology again? Definitely!

If you HAD to choose a different specialty, what would it be? N/a

Anything else you'd like to share? Ophthalmology can still be stressful. Complications, busy clinics with full waiting rooms, and difficult patients all dd up and may or may not keep you up at night. No matter what you do or how much of a "lifestyle field" you find yourself in, you will find stressors. I have friends in dermatology and rad onc who complain regularly about their jobs. With that in mind, I really enjoy the field and think I made the right decision considering my interests. You are also somewhat isolated from other specialties which may bother others. Finally, I never thought I would be in "academics" but all academic practices aren't equal. Same can be said for private (private equity owned, large multi-specialty physician owned, small physician owned, etc). Keep an open mind because the best practice fit may not be what you expect.


Just want to thank the above responder for taking the time to fill this out. Incredibly insightful!
 

MstaKing10

10+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2009
614
171
Status
Attending Physician
Are you happy working as an ophthalmologist (0-10)? 9

What was your reason for going into ophthalmology in the first place? Clinic and OR mix, tech, microsurgery, quality of life, salary

Did you decide to do a fellowship? Why or why not? Retina, didn't like refractive, didn't like glaucoma or plastics. Retina surgery and clinic pathology most interesting. Ability to perform multiple in office procedures as well

Do you like your hours? Do you feel like you have enough time with your family/other interests? Hours are great, even though retina gets a bad wrap. Hours are regular office hours. Call is split between partners evenly.

Do you work in an academic center or private practice? Have you ever switched from one to the other, if so why? Private practice all the way

Do you feel fairly compensated? Very much so

Would you mind sharing rough approximate of your compensation? Starting was about $300k. Now as full partner much more

Would you choose ophthalmology again? Absolutely

If you HAD to choose a different specialty, what would it be? ENT, Radiology, GI or interventional cardiology. Would lean on ENT the most

Anything else you'd like to share? Great field, wonderful breadth of pathology and treatments, perfect mix of clinic and OR, and great quality of life. The future is uncertain but for now there's a reason ours is a very competitive specialty. I don't mind giving up general medicine though can see some would not like this aspect. Lastly, residency and fellowship were brutal. Not an easy stretch but now in practice life is much better!
 

Baller2016

2+ Year Member
Dec 29, 2016
18
16
Are you happy working as an ophthalmologist (0-10)? 9

What was your reason for going into ophthalmology in the first place? Clinic and OR mix, tech, microsurgery, quality of life, salary

Did you decide to do a fellowship? Why or why not? Retina, didn't like refractive, didn't like glaucoma or plastics. Retina surgery and clinic pathology most interesting. Ability to perform multiple in office procedures as well

Do you like your hours? Do you feel like you have enough time with your family/other interests? Hours are great, even though retina gets a bad wrap. Hours are regular office hours. Call is split between partners evenly.

Do you work in an academic center or private practice? Have you ever switched from one to the other, if so why? Private practice all the way

Do you feel fairly compensated? Very much so

Would you mind sharing rough approximate of your compensation? Starting was about $300k. Now as full partner much more

Would you choose ophthalmology again? Absolutely

If you HAD to choose a different specialty, what would it be? ENT, Radiology, GI or interventional cardiology. Would lean on ENT the most

Anything else you'd like to share? Great field, wonderful breadth of pathology and treatments, perfect mix of clinic and OR, and great quality of life. The future is uncertain but for now there's a reason ours is a very competitive specialty. I don't mind giving up general medicine though can see some would not like this aspect. Lastly, residency and fellowship were brutal. Not an easy stretch but now in practice life is much better!
Thank you MstaKing10 for replying! Incredibly invaluable for young residents like myself, med students, etc! Seems like the IM thread copied us and made a similar thread :p haha
 
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Dec 10, 2019
27
32
Status
Attending Physician
I'm retina, and have two partners. We are on call every third week but we only take retina call. That can mean dealing with endo surgery on weekends, and/or late at night. Fortunately, it's been a long long time since I've had to do surgery in the middle of the night, or even late evening. A lot of stuff can be handled in the office, or put off and seen the next day, so this makes life more manageable. Even when on call, most issues are handled over the phone, and I do not have to go in. I'd hate to be a solo retina guy but being with partners makes the lifestyle great.....I rarely work past 4:30PM.

Clinic time is very busy with retina. There are so many patients needing injections, and you have to keep most of them on a regular schedule. This causes an ever expanding growth of patients needing care, and thus, busy busy clinics. For me, it gets tiring, because you can feel like a hamster on a spinning wheel. But, I just don't see that changing any time soon. The population is getting older, the number of ophthalmologists coming out is not keeping up with retirements, and the need for eyecare will continue to grow.

For the most part, I enjoy retina, but I'll be glad when I can retire and get off the hamster wheel. It was exciting the first ten years of practice but it is old now that I'm getting older. I do love the surgeries though.

Yes, the money is good. I make over 7 figures, but I'm seeing a lot of patients.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Sometimes, I do miss being with the "real doctors" but I enjoy being home with my wife and kids by 5:00, and having 2 out of three weekends completely free, more.
 

MstaKing10

10+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2009
614
171
Status
Attending Physician
I'm retina, and have two partners. We are on call every third week but we only take retina call. That can mean dealing with endo surgery on weekends, and/or late at night. Fortunately, it's been a long long time since I've had to do surgery in the middle of the night, or even late evening. A lot of stuff can be handled in the office, or put off and seen the next day, so this makes life more manageable. Even when on call, most issues are handled over the phone, and I do not have to go in. I'd hate to be a solo retina guy but being with partners makes the lifestyle great.....I rarely work past 4:30PM.

Clinic time is very busy with retina. There are so many patients needing injections, and you have to keep most of them on a regular schedule. This causes an ever expanding growth of patients needing care, and thus, busy busy clinics. For me, it gets tiring, because you can feel like a hamster on a spinning wheel. But, I just don't see that changing any time soon. The population is getting older, the number of ophthalmologists coming out is not keeping up with retirements, and the need for eyecare will continue to grow.

For the most part, I enjoy retina, but I'll be glad when I can retire and get off the hamster wheel. It was exciting the first ten years of practice but it is old now that I'm getting older. I do love the surgeries though.

Yes, the money is good. I make over 7 figures, but I'm seeing a lot of patients.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Sometimes, I do miss being with the "real doctors" but I enjoy being home with my wife and kids by 5:00, and having 2 out of three weekends completely free, more.
Sorry to derail the thread, OP feel free to redirect at any time...

Endo surgery is becoming less frequent in my experience. T and I seems to work well for most cases. Mac on RD's do show up from time to time and have to be dealt with. But again, quite rare and I usually book them for the following day. I have not operated in the middle of the night since fellowship MANY years ago. If dry AMD studies pan out, we will be doing more injections not less. You have to sort out how best to manage that. We have opted to grow the practice and hire more associates. I don't see nearly as many patients as it sounds like you do and my income seems comparable. This is obviously a practice/individual situation so there is no right or wrong answer here but it's important for others to know you don't need to work yourself to the bone and risk burnout with the right practice set up. Also having other revenue streams is important. And having some academics exposure in our practice has really helped to keep me interested and allows me to enjoy other aspects of ophthalmology that got me interested in medicine in the first place. We are very active in clinical research and we publish multiple articles yearly. I'm also involved in various committees within our practice to assist in some of the business and clinical aspects to running the practice (I actually enjoy some of the business of medicine). Anything to keep things interesting and do something a bit different I think will help prevent this "hamster wheel" mentality. Just my 2 cents.
 

ball123

7+ Year Member
Jan 3, 2013
43
29
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Thanks all for the contribution! I’m also in training so this is definitely invaluable information.

It would also be helpful to have some younger ophthalmologists chime in. Maybe those who are 3-5 years out
 
Dec 10, 2019
27
32
Status
Attending Physician
I'd also be interested in hearing from some of the newer ophthalmologists. My reason for this is I'd love to hear the perspective of ones who now work in a PE controlled practice environment instead of non-PE involved. Last year, I attended a meeting where I had the chance to meet a few residents in training. T was interesting to hear all of them say they did not want to work for a PE controlled group because they felt like it would limit growth for themselves (income, full partnership, etc...)
 

LightBox

7+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2011
396
187
Status
I'd also be interested in hearing from some of the newer ophthalmologists. My reason for this is I'd love to hear the perspective of ones who now work in a PE controlled practice environment instead of non-PE involved. Last year, I attended a meeting where I had the chance to meet a few residents in training. T was interesting to hear all of them say they did not want to work for a PE controlled group because they felt like it would limit growth for themselves (income, full partnership, etc...)
But funny thing is: alot of them would love to work for Kaiser (smh)!
 
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