March 25, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Eyes are the windows to the soul, and our ability to see is one of our most precious human qualities. Doctors who take care of your vision are called Ophthalmologists; if you are interested in helping people see the beauty of the world around them, then this many be the right career path for you!
Education and Training to Become an Ophthalmologist
Ophthalmologists are considered medical doctors and, as such, pursue a similar course of training to any other medical profession. After completing four years of undergraduate study, you’ll apply to medical school. If you know that ophthalmology might be the right medical specialty for you, consider a medical school that has a strong ophthalmology program that engages in eye research. You’ll have a better chance of obtaining a residency at this location. To secure your residency, you’ll need to apply early, as ophthalmology matches are completed early through the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Once you have completed your first residency year, you’ll spend another three years training in a subspecialty. Your choices include glaucoma, cornea disease, neuro-ophthalmology, ophthalmic plastic surgery, or ophthalmic pathology. It is strongly recommended that you become a board-certified ophthalmologist, although many eye doctors practice without passing this rigorous exam.
Because there are many specialized medical tools and devices used by ophthalmologists, you’ll spend a significant amount of time training to effectively use this equipment. You’ll develop your fine motor skills and observation abilities. Having good eyesight yourself is important, because you’ll need to distinguish between colors and shapes, though wearing glasses or contacts does not automatically eliminate ophthalmology as a career for you.
Duties and Responsibilities of an Ophthalmologist
For many people, the fear of loosing their eyesight and becoming blind is a terrifying one, and as an ophthalmologist, you can expect to maintain an enduring relationship with your patients over many years. You’ll need a compassionate bedside manner as many patients enter your office under stress. You’ll perform conventional ophthalmologist duties, such prescribing corrective lens and treating infections; in addition, you’ll also perform surgical duties as well. Your most common ophthalmology surgical procedure is removing cataracts, but there are many procedures you will be trained in and certified to perform. Because so many visual issues are related to other diseases, you will be in constant contact with your patients’ other physicians as well to communicate about diagnoses and treatment plans. Your patients will vary in age from young to old, though you can choose to specialize in pediatric or geriatric ophthalmology if you prefer to work with a specific patient demographic.
Salary and Career Outlook for Ophthalmology
Like a number of other medical specialties, ophthalmologists are both in high demand and in high supply. Rural areas often lack a trained ophthalmologist, so the need for your expertise in more remote areas is certainly in demand. In urban areas, general ophthalmologists are more common, so you’ll want to be experienced in an ophthalmology subspecialty to distinguish your skills from your peers. For your hard work, you’ll earn a very generous income of over $250,000 and almost $350,000 if you decide to work in a private practice.
Ophthalmology is an ever-evolving field with great potential to impact patients’ quality of life. It might just be the right career for you! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.