Optho Research?

Discussion in 'Clinical Rotations' started by Digitized, Jan 27, 2002.

  1. Digitized

    Digitized Junior Member

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    Hey guys, I was wondering, does anyone know what the residancy is like for an ophthalmologist. Specifically, I want to be an opthalmologist for the express purpose of doing research - working in a university or other research lab. I am fairly confidant in my ability to get into medical school and grind it out in terms of the work load and even clinical experience, but I don't want ulitmatly, the responsibility to perform eye surgery and deal with patients, since, my interest is on research and research alone. My first career goal was to do a phD in Vision Science (usually offered in select few institutions under school of optometry). I know that getting a job in this field will be much easier and more secure if I am an ophthalmologist who did a md/phd program, and is now intending to do work as a researcher in the field of vision science. My question to anyone who may know more on the exact details of an ophtho residancy and how one goes in full time research after becoming an ophthalmologist - Is it possible to become an ophthalmogist and go directly into research without ever doing any official clinical work - outside of med school and the residancy? Do people who complete a md/phd ever go directly to research after med school and skip the residancy? And finally, given what I've said about my ultimate goal of pursing Vision Science research only, is med school and ophthalmology a waste of time (the main reason again for not wanting to to clinical ophthalmology and research at the same time for me is that I simply hate the idea of having to wake up in the morning and know I have to perform surgery on someone's eye for the rest of my life)?

    I'm currently in my second year of undergrad studies (biophysics and applied math double major). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks a Bunch
     
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  3. LR6SO4

    LR6SO4 Senior Member

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    Well, ophtho is a VERY hard field to match into. So if you were to go to med school you would not be guaranteed a shot at it which would really suck if that's all you want to do. You didn't say what area of research you like about the eye. Neuro/ophtho is a fellowship after either neuro or ophtho. It is not super hard to get as most ophthos want to do more surgical stuff. Besides that neuro is a much easier field to match into (this is mainly because it pays less, I'm not ripping on neurologists as they are brilliant). Ophtho involves extensive surgical training so if this is not what you want then going the neuro route may be better for you as it involves no surgery. On the other hand...

    Is med school really for you? You said you never wanted to treat a patient, and if you meant that as I took it then really think hard about your decision. The MD/PhD route might be good, but if you don't do a residency after you get both degrees you are really a PhD with two more letters, you can't touch a patient. Actually doing an OD/PhD might be better if you had to have some clinical aspect in your life as they can be licensed without a residency. This would be good if you wanted to deal with more visual aspects as opposed to more medical aspects of the eye. Really think hard about what your life and career goals are before you decide. And don't forget that you may change your mind, or you may actually like treating patients in some capacity too.
     
  4. Digitized

    Digitized Junior Member

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    Well, thank you for your advice LR. The reality of the matter is, I have no problem treating patients in the capacity a general physician does, and I'm pretty sure I can handle doing surgery if I have to - It's just that since my primary interest is research, and on top of that, I don't feel I could live the lifestyle I want knowing I have to wake up a couple mornings a week and perform surgery on someone's eyes - and being on call would definantly be something I don't want to have to do. Sure in residancy you'll have to sacrifice your lifestyle - but I have no problem doing a residancy and living this lifestyle for a couple years if I know that once I become an ophthalmologist - I can just do research (both basic science and clinical). Its the surgery that I'm more worried about as opposed to dealing or checking patients and I was under the impression based on some career guide descriptions or something that once someone makes it through med school and their residancy, they could practice medicine, teach, do research, or all three. I would like to do research and by being an ophthalmologist and having a phD in something like biomedical engineering, physiological optics, or vision science if possible, I would have a much better chance of "choosing" my own route in terms of what type of research I do and where I do - as opposed to being just a phD. Again, tough decision giving my complex goals of wanting to specifically do research in vision science. As for as the route, well I'm more interested in vitreo-retinal research when compared to all the others "routes."

    You're right that I may change my mind in the future, but whether to shoot of a md/phd, or just a phd is something I have to decide as soon as possible.

    Thanks for listening
     
  5. LR6SO4

    LR6SO4 Senior Member

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    I think that you are very knowledgeable about what you want and don't want to do in life and for that I congratulate you. You are correct that after a residency one can practice, teach or do research. The reason that more physicians don't do research is money. Currently only 5% of MD's do. You can specialize within ophthalmology to end up doing relatively few/no surgical procedures as well. With an MD/PhD you can become a sub-specialist in a very small area of your own interest so you can choose your own path and caseload.

    I would really suggest going to your school library and looking at the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. There are 3 articles written on the lack of physician-researchers in our country, it might just inspire you to get the MD/PhD. I know that I had previously mentioned the OD/PhD route but your areas of interest seem better suited to an MD/PhD to be honest. I don't want to sound elitist, but being affiliated with a medical school will get you a better education to do medical science reserach, this won't happen at an optometry school. For optics stuff, sure go to an optom school. There are some really cool drugs coming out soon that are going to revolutionalize some parts of eye care and it would be (is, I worked on one in industry) exciting to work around them. One is SnET2, look it up. And good luck!
     

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