This article will present an overview of an ophthalmologist career so that anyone considering it as a future vocation can learn the basics about it. We’ll discuss what an ophthalmologist does and the medical career skills and aptitudes needed for success. Additionally, we’ll cover the educational and training requirements, and current salaries and growth in the field. We’ll also discuss the prospects for salaries and growth in the future. This article shouldn’t be understood as an extensive review. Anyone considering an ophthalmologist career will want to do further investigation before making a final decision, but this brief review can be an excellent starting point.
An ophthalmologist should not be confused with an optometrist. An optometrist provides only primary eye care: performing eye exams, prescribing corrective lenses for nearsightedness and farsightedness, diagnosing eye diseases and disorders such as cataracts or glaucoma, etc. An ophthalmologist can do all of the above, but also has the skills to treat problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. He or she can also diagnose and treat many more eye disorders and diseases such as tumors, dystrophies, problems with the optic nerve, and a whole host of other diseases and afflictions that are beyond the training of the optometrist. An ophthalmologist’s skills include using surgery to correct problems. Most people think of an ophthalmologist as an eye surgeon; although this is correct,there’s much more to an ophthalmologist career than performing surgery.
This is reflected in the education and training required to become an ophthalmologist. Like an optometrist, an ophthalmologist must complete four years of medical school after earning a bachelor’s degree. That is not the end of the educational process for a prospective ophthalmologist, however. After medical school, the candidate must then spend a year as an intern, followed by an additional three-year residency working in a hospital. This is one of the longest training periods required of any medical profession, and it will take dedication and drive to see it through to completion. In addition, many ophthalmologists choose to take the demanding Ophthalmology Written Qualifying Examination, or WQE, in order to demonstrate that they have truly mastered their art.
Commensurate with the long and difficult road to licensure, ophthalmologists enjoy one of the highest average incomes of any profession in the U.S. The median salary for an ophthalmologist is over $260,000 a year, and many earn well over $300,000 annually. There is every indication to believe that these salaries will only go higher in the future. Demographic trends favor those seeking an ophthalmologist career – most patients are middle-aged or elderly, and this cohort is the fastest- growing segment of the U.S. population. Because so few people choose to endure the arduous education involved in becoming an ophthalmologist, it’s highly unlikely that the supply of trained ophthalmologists will be able to keep up with the demand over the coming years.