Ophthalmologists - Demographics
Among U.S. ophthalmologists who are Asians, 63% are male and 37% are female. However, among Caucasian/White U.S. ophthalmologists, 73% are male and only 27% are female. Below the demographic profile for an ophthalmologist is presented.
Ophthalmologists — Demographics
- According to the most comprehensive survey report of the Medscape Ophthalmologist Compensation Report 2018, among US ophthalmologists who are Asians, 63% are male and 37% are female. However, among Caucasian/White U.S. ophthalmologists, 73% are male and only 27% are female.
- According to the survey, among practicing ophthalmologists, 22.7% are female and 77.3% are male. Women are traditionally underrepresented in medicine (URM) and among the ophthalmology faculty, there are 35.1% female and 64.9% male. However, among ophthalmology residents 44.3% are female and 55.7% are male.
- Among the optometrist's workforce, as a group of eye care professionals, 39.8% are female and 60.2% male.
- Based on the Medscape survey demographics, among U.S. ophthalmologists, the breakdown of age is as following:
- Based on the 2016 survey, among practicing ophthalmologists only 6% are from minority groups including Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander. Minority groups are also underrepresented in medicine (URM). Likewise, among the ophthalmology faculty, 5.7% are from minority groups and among ophthalmology residents, 7.7% are from minority groups.
- Among the optometrist's workforce, as a group of eye care professionals, 82% are white and 13% Asian.
- According to the most comprehensive survey report of the Medscape Ophthalmologist Compensation Report 2018, the average compensation of ophthalmologists is $357,000. U.S.-trained ophthalmologists earn $353,000 compared to $448,000 earned by the foreign-trained ophthalmologists. However, based on the survey report, only 54% of the ophthalmologists feel that they are fairly compensated.
- Nearly one-half of the ophthalmologists feel that they should be earning 11% to 25% more and more than one-quarter feel that they deserve a salary increase of 26% to 50%.
- Male ophthalmologists earn more ($391,000) compared to female ophthalmologists ($273,000).
- According to a news article published in Beckers' ASC, 2016, "Ophthalmologists make an average salary of $292,000." However, it has increased to $357,000 in 2018 (as mentioned above).
- As of a 2016 article, the compensation for ophthalmologists varies by geographic region:
Self-Employed vs Employed
- Self-employed ophthalmologists earn more ($429,000) compared to employed ophthalmologists ($256,000). About 58% of U.S. ophthalmologists are self-employed and 40% are employed.
- Among employed ophthalmologists, 37% are male and 45% are female indicating that men are more attracted towards self-employed options.
- According to the survey, during the past ten years, there was a slight increase in the fraction of female practicing ophthalmologists who graduated from medical school from 1980 on. In 1980, 23.8% graduated from U.S. medical schools and in later years this increased to 27.1%.
- For URM ophthalmologists or minority groups, no change was seen in the proportion of practicing ophthalmologists who graduated from US medical schools in 1980 or later. Resident ophthalmologists showed "a similar pattern, with an increase in the proportion of female residents (from 35.6% to 44.3%) and a slight decrease in the proportion of URM residents (from 8.7% to 7.7)"
- Among the ophthalmology faculty, the proportion of URM groups has also decreased slightly during 2005 (6.2%) to 2014 (5.7%). It is important to note that "a higher proportion of URM ophthalmologists practiced in medically under-served areas."
- As per the American College of Surgeons, to become an ophthalmologist in the U.S., one must complete "four years of college, four years of medical school, and four to five years of additional specialized training. Ophthalmology is a broad surgical specialty," and has many detailed sub-specializations.
- A career in Ophthalmology is rewarding, well-payed, and highly respected. It requires extensive schooling and many years of preparation but brings a future with many benefits and perks.
Challenges Ophthalmologists Face
- In spite of billing and other administrative challenges, 80% of ophthalmologists surveyed said they will continue to take Medicare/Medicaid patients. However, 15% are undecided and only 2% indicated that they would stop taking or drop patients who are recipients.
- Based on the 2018 Medscape survey, the most challenging parts of the ophthalmologists' job are:
- Despite so many challenges, 79% of ophthalmologists said that they would choose medicine again and 88% would choose the same specialty. The rewards of treating patients and having many of them express appreciation, knowing that they are competent in their field, and contributing to a better world appear to make up for the difficulties they face in their jobs.
- Physicians have complained about the effect of the Affordable Care Act has on their incomes, and as per this year's survey, 14% of ophthalmologists who participated have experienced a decrease. For 41% of the ophthalmologists, there was no change.
- Although ophthalmologists are unfamiliar with patients' insurance or financial status and even the cost of treatment they recommend, about 94% of ophthalmologists surveyed, discuss the cost of treatment with their patients regularly or occasionally. Only 6% of the ophthalmologists never discuss that with their patients.
- According to the survey, administrative tasks remain the primary cause of burnout among physicians, and 46% of ophthalmologists reported that they spent 10 hours or more per week this year on paperwork and administration. Although getting promoted further adds up the administrative task, about 61% of employed ophthalmologists seek promotion this year. By gender, 67% of men and 47% of women seek promotion.
- For 35% of ophthalmologists, the most rewarding part of their job is the gratitude/relationship with patients, for 23% knowing that they make the world a better place is most rewarding. However, for 19% of ophthalmologists, the most rewarding part is making good money at a job they like to do.
Future Outlook for the Position, Relevant Statistics
- According to the latest survey conducted by the International Council of Ophthalmology in 2012, there were 18,805 ophthalmologists in the U.S. and the number of ophthalmologists per million of population was 59. Among 18,805 total ophthalmologists, 440 were entering in the practice and 80% were doing surgery.
- In the United States, there are 19,216 active ophthalmologists. Forty percent of ophthalmologists own or have ownership in an ASC.
- On average, the typical surgery center performs 4,869 cases annually. Eighteen percent of these cases (or an estimated 876 cases) go to ophthalmology. This makes it second to GI/endoscopy that gets 25% of the cases.
- Apart from the above, the survey revealed that among medical students, there is a low level of interest in ophthalmology. Only about 2.5% to 3.0% of students were interested in pursuing a career in ophthalmology. URM medical students are also less interested in specializing in ophthalmology.
- The low interest in ophthalmology may be because there are few residency positions available for this specialization and the high score requirements on the United States Medical Licensing Examination.
Initially, we relied on survey reports and industry reports. We found a report from the International Council of Ophthalmology which provided information on the number of Ophthalmologists in 2012 globally including the US. It also included information on the number of practitioners per million of population as well as the percentage of total practitioners who do surgery. The report, however, has very old data. Reports were also found from the American Optometric Association, which has paid survey reports mainly related to Optometrists; however, they can be relevant to Ophthalmologists information. Medscape provided information on the income of ophthalmologists in the US obtained from the latest survey conducted in 2018. It provided a lot of demographic details and some other relevant information on the US ophthalmologists. From these reports, however, we were not able to find information on the career duration, typical education, how they measure success (success measurement), and the positions on their extended team (i.e. physician assistant, nurse practitioner, medical technicians, RN.s, and Pharmacists).
Next, we decided to look through institutional websites which may offer some insights on the ophthalmologists' career, education, responsibilities, etc. We looked through websites such as the National Eye Institute (which provided dated and irrelevant information), the American College of Surgeons (which had some general data on the career and education of ophthalmologists), and Optician Edu.org (which has some general data on the career and education of ophthalmologists). This strategy was not successful in providing all the relevant information. We were unable to find information on how success is measured and the positions on extended teams. We also searched through Data USA — Ophthalmology, hoping that it may contain some demographic details related to the ophthalmologists' career, education, responsibilities, etc. But it had no information at all for the ophthalmologists.
Later, we decided to search through Journals. JAMA Ophthalmology, 2016, was a survey on ophthalmologists conducted from 2000 to 2014 and published in 2016 had a lot of relevant demographic detail. The Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015, had information on the geographic distribution of eye care providers in the United States, but the data was so old (2011) that we did not include that in our research. Through this strategy, we were also not able to find information on success measurements and extended teams.
Then we started searching through the media articles and news articles and found Beckers' ASC Review. This had some statistics on ophthalmologists' average income, income based on geography, and others. This was from 2016 but we included this data to compare the income as well as to provide a view of how geography affects their income range.
Based on the above-mentioned strategies, we were able to gather a lot of relevant information on the demographics of the U.S. ophthalmologists and several other required information. Please note that due to the limited availability of recent data, we had to use past data to compile a comprehensive report.