What is an ophthalmologist?
In layman terms, an ophthalmologist is an eye doctor. In this medical profession you will deal exclusively with the parts of the body that are related to the visual pathways. This includes your eyes, the areas around your eye like the eyelid, and parts of the brain that is involved with the visual pathways. One important piece of information to know is that there is a difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. The difference is that an optometrist only deals with prescribing contact lenses or prescribing glasses along with checking your eyes for vision problems but cannot perform surgery. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that is fully licensed and is qualified to perform surgery if necessary. Some ophthalmologist may have a particular specialty like eye problems in children, diseases of the retina, cornea, along with vitreous diseases, glaucoma, etc. When you become an ophthalmologist you will have either a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) or Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree.
Job description of an ophthalmologist
The job of an ophthalmologist is diverse and extensive. In addition to treating disorders of the eye, the ophthalmologist is also able to suggest to their patients different preventative measures for various eye problems and injuries to the eyes. This medical professional works in the field of surgical and medical care of the eyes. When becoming an ophthalmologist some of the things that you might do can include:
- Treat eye infections that is caused by another health disorder
- Using therapeutic procedures like laser therapy to correct vision problems
- Treating eye problems in children
- Be able to diagnosis whether the eye problem is caused by or leading to another health disorder.
- You will have to work with medical practitioners from other medical professions like neurologists, ENT specialist, pediatricians, and more because of the result of other underlying health conditions.
- An ophthalmologist is a specialist in treating particular eye problems like cataracts, glaucoma, etc.
- They may also work as a consultant and work more in disease prevention than in treating eye problems.
- May do research in eye disorders and the way they are treated.
Ophthalmologists will also have to have the patience to be able to handle small children who are getting their first eye exam and may not want to sit still and be cooperative.
How to become an ophthalmologist?
To become an ophthalmologist the training period and education programs is very lengthy and can take 12 years to complete and requires the study of problems that are associated with vision and how they relate to other aspects of health. An ophthalmologist is considered a medical doctor so you will have to earn your Doctor of Medicine degree and become a licensed MD. Before you get to medical school you will have to complete a 4 year bachelor’s degree. You are free to decide what you major in to get your bachelor’s degree but it is advisable since you are going to medical school after you graduate that you include some pre-med classes. Some of these classes are organic and regular chemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, medical ethics, physics etc. You want to take coursework that will help to prepare you for a career in medicine. You should also make sure that you are taking as many math and science classes in high school.
Once you have your bachelor’s degree it is time for 4 years of medical school. Getting into medical school is a very competitive process so make sure that you have excellent grades from your bachelor’s degree program. Before being admitted to medical school you will have to pass the Medical College Admission Test. There are many medical colleges that will require you to have an interview with the admissions board. The reason is that it is so hard to get into medical school as there are thousands of students trying to get into medical school every years but the colleges only admit so many so make sure that you have a very good GPA, ace the interview, and have a great score on the MCAT test. It will also help if you have some extra-curricular activities to put on your application that are medically related. In medical school you will have classroom work, laboratory work, and some practical clinical experience.
After graduating from medical school you will have to complete a 12 month internship and this is followed by 3 year residency training in ophthalmology that is supervised. This is the residency training in performing eye surgery. If you decide to do a sub-specialty in ophthalmology like neuro-ophthalmologist, ophthalmic reconstructive and plastic surgery, etc, you will have to complete an additional 12-24 month fellowship. When becoming an ophthalmologist you should become board certified but that is not necessary. Being board certified will just make it easier to open your own practice or find a job. To become board certified you have to pass the exam that is administered by the American Board of Ophthalmology.
Work environment and schedule
Working as an ophthalmologist you can work in hospitals, clinics, research labs, have your own practice, join an existing practice, or a group practice. Most ophthalmologist work a normal schedule Monday thru Friday but there are some who will work a half day on Saturday and may have late night hours one or two days a week to help meet the needs of their patients who work during the day. If you work in a hospital you may be on call some weekends and during the week in case of an emergency such as a person were in a bad car wreck or had an injury that affected their eye(s) in some way and needed the medical expertise of an ophthalmologist.
The patients of an ophthalmologist may be referrals from their primary care physician or regular patients who have chosen this particular ophthalmologist because they are having problems with their vision. If the patient is a referral you would read their charts to see if the primary care physician suspects any particular reason for his patient’s eye disorder. If not then it will be up to the ophthalmologist to run the right diagnostic tests in order to be able to correctly diagnosis the problem and have a treatment plan in place.
When seeing a new patient you would take their physical history and perform different tests on their eyes to look for the problem. Two of the tests that you might use are the subjective test and color vision test. They will also use specialized equipment like microscopes, magnifying glasses, specialize machines to test your eyes to find the right prescription for your new glasses or contacts if you need them. Once you have the diagnosis you can suggest treatment plans such as needing glasses, or a stronger prescription, surgery to remove cataracts, prescription eye drops for dry eyes, medication for an eye infection, etc.
An ophthalmologist who is in private practice or with a group practice will have to update the patient’s charts with what the diagnosis is, treatment plan, follow up visits, etc and keep everything in their chart secure. In private practice they need to make sure that their office is running smoothly. If the patient was a referral then you will need to send notes as to what you have found and what is being done to the primary care physician. An ophthalmologist may work in their practice 3 days a week and have surgery scheduled 2 days of the week. You could also do regular eye exams, prescribe glasses or contact lens, treat eye injuries, etc.
Pros and cons of being an Ophthalmologist
If your dream is to become an ophthalmologist, then you should be aware that these professionals work under the guidance of a licensed ophthalmologist. One of the best pro is that the payment or this position is actually a good one. Also, the educational requirements are not so high like in any other fields, but it is a job that is not without risks.
You can be your own boss by opening your own practice. Since there aren’t as many ophthalmologist around if you are the main doctor you’ll find some occasions in which you’ll have to perform surgery, and other tasks. The pro, which comes with this part of the job is that your work will vary, you’ll develop on multiple levels and you won’t get bored. The salary for an ophthalmologist is very good, and you can advance along the way in this career with other job opportunities.
The demand will vary according to each state, but people will always carry for their eyes and their sight so you’ll be needed. You’ll have to deal with good and bad subjects at the same time in a day so you’ll have to act very professional and keep your calm.
After completing school, ophthalmologists have to complete a four-year residency, so this is quite a good deal compared with other fields. The pros, which will accompany this job, are related with the hours of work. You’ll get flexible hours, you will not have so many emergencies like in any other medical fields, and the number of fatalities is very low. The only problem is that your free time won’t be so much, and the medical schools can be very costly.
On the other hand, another con is that working as an ophthalmologist can be very competitive. Because there are not too many such specialists, you’ll have to be really good in what you are doing and be there to help the people that require your knowledge and your aid.
Ophthalmologist Job Growth
The future outlook for this career is a great one concerning the fact that the number of demanding and the cases that gather up continue to rise due to the elderly population, the long hours that are consumed in front of the new arising technology as well as various other factors that influence and affect our sightseeing.
The career opportunities for these professionals are plenty since many might work for themselves while other can find work in other various healthcare facilities. The job outlook for ophthalmologists is projected with a rate of increase that usually reaches at around 18% in the next ten years or so.
The prospects for jobs is good especially for those who want to practice in the rural and low-income areas. Why? These areas tend to have difficulties in attracting ophthalmologists then the competition for a position is not that high.
This is a high paying career and where many jobs do not pay well to employees who have just graduated and are new to the job being an ophthalmologist with the new degree and no work experience yet can still make between $100,000 – $200,000 average yearly salary. There are also many factors that must be taken in consideration when figuring out the average yearly ophthalmologist salary. Some of the factors that are taken into consideration are the number of years they have been practicing, where you are working like private practice, hospital, group practice, research, etc. the geological location which includes the state and city because an ophthalmologist that works in a large city will generally make more than one who practices in a small rural town, the gender of the ophthalmologist, and if there are any sub-specialties.
In addition to a very lucrative salary the ophthalmologist has to take into consideration their benefit package. What benefits you might have depends on where you are working but generally a benefit package includes vacation days, sick days, personal days, social security, pension, 401K, life insurance, health insurance, malpractice insurance, bonus production, etc. If you have your own practice or in a practice with someone else there is also overhead that can take some away from your salary. This overhead can include rent for the practice, employee’s salaries and benefits, utilities, etc.
Although this sounds sexist, a female ophthalmologist would receive an average yearly salary of $165,184 and a male ophthalmologist would receive an average yearly salary of $274,800 ($131 per hour) for the same amount of work experience, the same geographical location, and work place.
The annual average yearly salary for being an ophthalmologist based on experience can be:
- $100,000 – $200,00 for up to 1 year experience
- $130,00 – $240,00 for 1 – 5 years experience
- $175,000 – $250,000 for 5 – 10 years experience
- $150,00 – $340,00 for 10 years or more experience
The national average yearly ophthalmologist is $235,000 – $240,000 but some who have their own practice or are senior partners in a group practice can earn an average yearly salary of $500,000
Ophthalmologist specializing in retina care average yearly salary:
- $280,000 in the first 2 years
- $469,000 after 3 years
- $716,000 top salary
Salary of an Ophthalmologist in 2015
The average ophthalmologist salary, which is expected in this field of ophthalmology can reach about $700,010 per year due to the various factors that accomplish one’s salary in this profession. You’ll start earning more once you’ll advance in this field, and your years of experience gather up. For instance, the average salary for one ophthalmologist will less than four years of experience will reach to be at $249,020 per year. The experts having more than 19 years of experience can make an income that reaches at $345,980 per year.
The ophthalmologists are also influenced according to the department in which they would operate. The aspects, which make a difference, are: if they are self-employed or not, the gender of one ophthalmologist, the location and as early mentioned his or her age.
The salary package is many times accompanied by a yearly bonus and paid vacations. For the year 2015 the salary of an ophthalmologist remain the same but the future outlook is great especially since the number of demanding is starting to rise due to the many hours that are spent in front of new technology, the elderly population and other factors that influence your sightseeing.
Ophthalmologist Salary in 2016
Like in the early years the income of an ophthalmologist, in the United States throughout the year 2016, is based and affected by several major factors. Even though this is a job that has among the highest payments, and even for a new graduated having not enough experience (or no experience at all) the incomes can vary from $100,030 and $200,020 per year.
Returning to the factors the average yearly salary is affected by the years of experience that these professionals have been practicing, the type of industry in which you are working such as private practice, hospitals or other various facilities, the location, gender and where present if there are sub-specialties.
The lowest and the highest points will also indicate where an ophthalmologist salary is classified at. The lowest points in the salary being estimated by some surveys to reach at around $192,540 per year while the highest points in the incomes of these professionals tend to reach out at around $339,560 per year.
Usually, the lowest income is granted either for those who have just entered into the field or have no experience at all or have only 4 years of work experience in the field. The highest earnings of ophthalmologists are usually granted to those who work for big companies in those metropolitan areas that are very demanding.
When it comes to the demographical role, the location has its own part. Ophthalmologists that found jobs in larger cities tend to earn more than those who are working in smaller regions such as rural towns. Each state will grant different salaries that are influenced by the living expenses and the cost of living.
An ophthalmologist also has to take into consideration the benefits package that usually has different figures according to the working site. The general line that is reached through a benefits package will include paid vacations, social security, pension, 401K, life insurance, malpractice insurance, health insurance, and a few other.
When it comes to the gender, a female that works as an ophthalmologist can expect to take home less than a male ophthalmologist. This even applies to the parameters of the same location, or the same amount of work experience, and even workplace. To better understand the earnings of a female ophthalmologist is estimated at around $165,234 per year while the earnings of a male ophthalmologist tend to reach a yearly average of around $274,890 per year, with the same early reminded factors.
Ophthalmologist salary in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom
- Canada—CA $245,000 – CA $260,000 average yearly salary.
- UK—in the United Kingdom the average yearly salary for all medical professions are based on the age of the medical professional. If you are in your 20’s it is 60,063, in your 30’s it is 71,095, and in your 40’s and 50’s it is 71,095.
- Australia—the average yearly salary is AU $124,00.
Conclusion on ophthalmologist salary
Although it is not right to base a salary on gender a man in the ophthalmology field does make more than a woman doing the same job. This field does pay a high salary and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment opportunities for an ophthalmologist will grow 24% by the year 2020 so this is a great field of medicine to get into even if it takes 12 or more years to become a licensed practicing ophthalmologist. One reason that an ophthalmologist may be paid such a high salary, even recently graduated ophthalmologist and ones with just 12 months experience is because it requires extensive education, residency, and fellowship to become an ophthalmologist plus the delicate surgeries they do.
To be able to earn the highest average salary possible, make sure that you do your research before you start to job hunt. This can even be done while still pursuing your degree so you will have an idea of where you want to work after graduation. Near the end of your residency in ophthalmology is a good time to start applying for positions because you are not the only one who will be looking for a job. You should also think about opening your own practice as this is one of the ways to get a large salary. The salary for being an ophthalmologist is high, even for ones just starting out. You also want to make sure that before accepting a job you should look at the benefit package to make sure that it is adequate.
Become an ophthalmologist specialist because they earn more money. For example, being a new ophthalmologist you can earn an average salary between $100,000 – $200,000 while an ophthalmologist that has specialized in retina care starts out earning on average $280,000. Other specialties would earn similar start salary.
- First Published Date: 17 June, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 29 June, 2016