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How is the ophtho market?

Discussion in 'Ophthalmology: Eye Physicians & Surgeons' started by m3unsure, May 30, 2008.

  1. m3unsure

    m3unsure Junior Member 2+ Year Member

    Apr 12, 2006
    Addressed in the past. Yes.

    But how is the market for work for those graduating this year? When I was a student, I heard from a fellow that you probably don't make much unless you go out to a smaller town. Now, that makes sense across the board. However, what about metro areas with a salary near 100K? Is that even right? That's peds league.

    What explains the discrepancy? People always talk about million dollar docs and then others talk about 100K. Looks like someone is over exaggerating.
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  3. snowflake83


    Apr 19, 2009
    Along the same lines as the previous post....I'm an M3 & seriously condisering ophtho, but I am a little concerned that the field seems pretty saturated.... at least when you look at job websites (for whatever it's worth, a lot of fields have 200+ listings and ophtho might have <10). Are current residents have trouble finding jobs? I know a lot of people mention low starting salaries, but what about having much choice geographically?

  4. orbitsurgMD

    orbitsurgMD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    I think the days of bootstrapping yourself into a 500K income in five years are really over. The people making that kind of money are fewer and fewer have been in practice awhile and have developed other income pathways related to practice--they own surgery centers, opticals, have stakes in multi-employed doctor practices or medical real estate. You need to become busy and see lots of patients to make what would have been considered an unexceptional, even low-average income for a decade and a half ago. 20 patients a day and the surgery that comes from that will not get you the lifestyle for which ophthalmologists were once infamous--no 12-meter racing for you.

    The bonanza days of LASIK are gone. Long gone. The laser centers are cannibalizing their staffs, even people you would think they could not do without.

    Time to adjust to the new reality, what will likely be the long-term reality, not just something that will blow over with the end of this "recession."

    But ophthalmology is still interesting and largely pleasant, with many excellent and improving therapies, and for those reasons will likely remain attractive and competitive for a long time to come.
  5. Eyefixer

    Eyefixer 10+ Year Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Great post. I agree with everything you said.

    Just to give you some perspective on job market in CA. Without going into too many details, I spoke to our recruiter today; she accidentally posted a job opening this morning (the position is long gone); within 2 hours, she had 14 emails. Wow.

  6. alesdu1

    alesdu1 Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2006
    I'm a rising MSII at a top 5 med school and I'm hoping to enter ophtho and later make a career in academic medicine. I've read recently in this forum that ophthos in highly desirable cities, such as New York, Boston, San Fran, etc will have difficulty finding openings for more than 100-150K. A few questions on this:

    1) Even for these jobs that have such low starting salaries, what do you think would be a reasonable guess for a salary, say 3-5 years after joining the practice?

    2) How is the pay in academic medicine/teaching hospitals? (I have no idea and feel awkward asking attendings at my school) Both in terms of generally/nationally and then specifically for these "desirable cities": would academic jobs in these "highly saturated markets" also have lower pays, or would they perhaps be a bit more insulated from traditional market forces? (I realize that 90% of ophthos are in private practice, but for the sake of argument...)

    3) Would a salary likely be higher following sub-specialty training?

    4) Obviously, board certified ophthos are created equal. But, would having attended a top tier school, top tier residency, etc be more likely to get you a better starting pay, or is the market just about finding the cheapest guy to do the job?
  7. orbitsurgMD

    orbitsurgMD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    1. Looking forward 15 years from now?

    2. Typically average to lower than average.

    3. Not necessarily.

    4. Having gone to top-tier institutions probably will help you get into academic jobs more easily, all other things being equal. Outside of that, you can use it for chest thumping in the private community, but that could work both against you or for you. I have seen some former academic docs with a wall full of top-drawer certificates do much less well than less-distinguished graduates in private practice once they were no longer practicing from the offices of a famous institution.
  8. KHE

    KHE Senior Member Optometrist SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    I don't get it. Why do many people have this incredibly desire to work in metro California?? I've been to every major city in CA dozens and dozens of times.

    Yes...the weather is nice nearly every single day.



    I mean seriously....what's next? Frogs? Locusts? Boils? What is it that comes after the earthquakes and the fires?
  9. orbitsurgMD

    orbitsurgMD Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 27, 2005
    Never underestimate the power of good weather.

    Why retire in Florida? Bugs, storms, incredible humidity, no public transit to speak of, crime, no coastal mountains for a breeze or an ocean view . . . .

    It seems not having to shovel snow or deal with winter darkness and ice is a pretty powerful incentive for many.

    The three pillars of life in southern Florida: air conditioning, irrigation and insecticide, and still the place attracts migrants. Go figure.
  10. Eyefixer

    Eyefixer 10+ Year Member

    Nov 26, 2007
    I'll make it simple for you: family, wife's family, life-long friends, community ties. I do wish sometimes I was from mid-west somewhere...

  11. Meibomian SxN

    Meibomian SxN 7+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    NYC, Boston, & San Fran have tons of specialists, sub-specialists etc. Buy a cowboy hat and head Mid-West if you want that big payoff.
  12. opthointerested


    Jan 16, 2010
    I was going to start a thread on this topic but glad I found this one. As an M3 interested in ophtho, I have a couple of questions (which may have already been answered). Why is the ophtho job market so bad? I can understand that it is over-saturated but most residencies in medicine are under training the required need for a field and therefore naturally keep the job market less saturated.

    Are older ophtho docs staying in practice longer, thereby keeping younger ones from moving in?

    There can't be a decreasing demand, like everything else in medicine, the population is aging = more cataracts, glaucoma etc.

    What if you wanted to practice in the midwest or southeast? Are jobs still scarce like in the bigger cities?

    Why is compensation so low? - if you search google or look on any job threads, the salary range is generally in the 200s. Where is this discrepancy coming from that people on this forum are posting 100s for jobs but general salary census online is in the 200-250s?

    Sorry if these questions are stupid/simple but I don't know that much about the field.
  13. KHE

    KHE Senior Member Optometrist SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    I'm speaking as an optometrist but this question comes up in the optometry forum all the time and I belive the answers are the same....

    1) While there is an increased demand for cataracts et al due to the aging population, modern cataract surgery in the hands of a skilled surgeon takes about 10 minutes. In the "old days" it took about an hour and the complication rates were much higher. As such, far fewer surgeons can take care of the same population base, even with increased demand.

    2) Technology in the eye care field allows for a fair amount of delegation to ancillary staff which again, allows the same number of docs to see a much larger number of patients. So in essence, there is an increasing demand for SERVICES but a DECREASING demand for doctors which results in downward pressure on salaries.

    3) Most of the salary questions on SDN seem to come from people who are interested in saturated urban areas. Also, most "average" salary web searches don't take into account years in practice. Obviously, a doc 15 years old who is a partner or owner of a practice is going to make a lot more than someone fresh out of residency. Make sure you compare apples to apples when looking at internet salary data.
  14. opthointerested


    Jan 16, 2010
    Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I just found one of the other threads regarding this topic and got the answers you posted but I appreciate your time. Didn't mean to rehash the same old points but was interested.
  15. Stark

    Stark Physician Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    Oct 22, 2003
    Lubbock, Texas
    SDN Exhibitor
    Ophtho Jobs - like any other specialty - are in underserved areas (smaller towns and cities.

    I know guy in West Virginia who sees 90 pts a day and does about 40 cataracts a week - that's huge.

    Basically - choose your specialty because you love the work (regardless or reimbursement) or you'll be miserable. Cataract surgery is cool - I don't know what I'll be paid in 5 or 20 years - but cataract surgery will still be cool.


    Ophthalmology Mnemonics
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010

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