Aug 4, 2012
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Not sure if there is already a thread about this..

was hoping to gain some perspective regarding oculoplastics...never thought i would fall in love with it to this degree during my 4th year away rotations...but i did!

how hard is it to match into plastics from a top 15 residency program? what are the top 3 things that count? how much does ASOPRS vs. non-ASOPRS affect ur future career?..

Any help would be much appreciated :) :)
 

NotsureMD

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Aug 12, 2010
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Maybe best to ask after we've matched, but here goes...

Plastics is fascinating, but as others have commented previously, it's important to make sure that you love the rest of ophthalmology too. Otherwise there are other specialty options to consider. It sounds like you've already matched though, so congratulations and you've clearly gotten this part figured out...

Each year there are roughly 24 ASOPRS spots available and easily twice that number of well qualified candidates who at least register to begin the application process. So yes, it is very competitive and deserving people do get overlooked. I'm not sure, however, that the overall rank of your program is the strongest predictor of match success. There are many, many well-known and respected plastics faculty members outside of the top 15. The most important thing is that you form close working relationships with the people at your future institution since their letters on your behalf are probably the most important factor (at least in terms of getting an interview in the first place). Give yourself 6 months to adjust, learn the basics and decide that you really do want to pursue plastics; then start doing grand rounds, case reports & research with these people. If you have extra time, it never hurts to go help out with surgical cases. If you have fellows at your program keep in mind that your working relationship with them is very important as well. Faculty members are bound to ask them what you're actually like when they're not around. You can have a rock star application, but a lousy personality or attitude will ruin you chances faster than anything.

It's also reasonably important to do well on the OKAPs since this is the only year you have to produce a score that programs will see. Like the USMLE, it isn't supposed to be used for differentiating candidates, but some programs still ask for it and use it. I'd definitely recommend hitting a review book like Chern or Trattler and a question bank like Ophthoquestions pretty hard after you've taken the first few months to get oriented to your program.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of great non-ASOPRS fellowships as well; in some cases the distinction has more to do with history and politics than with the quality of education you'll receive. They're a bit harder to find out about, though, since there's no central clearing house, so ask around. Generally speaking, ASOPRS is more important if you want to stay in academia and some employers state that they perfer it, but coming from a good non-ASOPRS program will still afford you a lot of opportunities.
 
OP
M
Aug 4, 2012
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Thanks a lot..your response really put things in perspective. Good luck with the match!!!!
 

Adab

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Jun 14, 2005
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Whats the current job market for ASOPRS graduates? I know a few and they had a tough time of it (as the rest of ophthalmology), and many were asked to do general ophthalmology for a significant part of their practice.
 

sven

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It's hard to know for sure since we all extrapolate from very small sample sizes. Of the last two fellows and one recent graduate of my residency who trained an another ASOPRS program, one got the academic job of her choice and the other two got good private practice positions in major urban areas where they will be doing plastics only. That being said, I'm not sure these results are typical. I've definitely heard of people going into private practice doing at least some comprehensive ophthalmology, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Lots of people like intraocular surgery and don't want to give it up entirely. Depending on the politics of your referral network, however, it's not always possible to keep your hands in the cataract pie and you have to focus exclusively on plastics even if it means a bit of a slower start. Like most branches in medicine, your opportunities vary a lot depending on how flexible you're willing to be in terms of geographic location. Some markets are much more saturated than others.
 

Adab

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How many ASOPRS folks do cataract surgery? I imagine it to be a very small percentage of folks.
 

sven

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Not sure of the actual percentages. It all depends on your practice type and the local politics. Nobody does cataracts in an academic setting except in very rare circumstances (e.g. operating separately at an outside practice). In a congenial private group practice it may be possible to do some cataracts and general ophthalmology. Some practices may even request that you do this as a junior partner. If you're more independent and heavily reliant on outside ophthalmologists for your plastics volume, however, trying to do cataracts on the side can definitely burn your referral base.

Again no stats to back this up, but I'd guess that more ASOPRS members are purists, while those doing a mix more often have completed 1 year non-ASOPRS fellowships knowing that they wanted to add some basic functional and cosmetic plastics to a comprehensive practice.