Ophthalmologist Advancement Opportunities

Aug 21, 2019

An ophthalmologist specializes eye care and surgery. An experienced ophthalmologist may choose to advance through specialization, or by moving into the education field or into healthcare management.

Ophthalmologist Career Advancement

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of the eye. They perform regular exams, diagnose eye disease, and treat eye injuries and abnormalities through medication and surgery. Becoming an ophthalmologist requires the same rigorous education, residency, and certification as other licensed surgeons. Advancement for this healthcare professional can take several forms. These include further specialization, a move into higher education, or a step up the healthcare ladder into executive management.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2019) Job Growth (2016-26)*** Qualifications
Pediatric Ophthalmology $230,625* 14% (surgeons) Pediatric ophthalmology fellowship
Ophthalmic plastic surgery $253,523 (plastic surgeons)** 14% (surgeons) Ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellowship
Chief Medical Officer $293,120** -4% (chief executives) Active medical license; 8+ years of medical experience
Ophthalmology Professor $205,855 (assistant ophthalmology professors)* 26% (health specialties teachers, postsecondary) Board certification in state of postsecondary institution

Sources: *, **, ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Information

Pediatric Ophthalmology

Pediatric ophthalmologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of eye issues in children. They diagnose ocular disease and visual processing disorders, treat eye injuries, and perform pediatric eye surgery. Pediatric ophthalmologists also offer child eye exams and write prescriptions for glasses or contact lenses. Requirements for this eye specialist are similar to that of a general ophthalmologist. However, in addition to medical school, a surgical internship, and an ophthalmology residency, they also complete a pediatric ophthalmology fellowship.

Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery

An ophthalmologist with a specialization in corrective surgery can advance to ophthalmic plastic surgery. Ophthalmic cosmetic or reconstructive surgery can aid in the correction of vision, correct a cosmetic defect, remove an ocular growth or tumor, or help a patient recover from a disease or injury that has affected the eye area. These surgeons have the ability to reconstruct or correct parts of the eye such as sockets and eyelids, add implants, and recreate ocular structures. To become an ophthalmic plastic surgeon, a certified ophthalmologist must complete plastic surgery training or a fellowship with a focus on the eye.

Chief Medical Officer

An experienced ophthalmologist with a management background, proven leadership, and an ability to communicate a clear vision may find the role of chief medical officer (CMO) a natural advancement step. CMOs provide executive-level medical leadership in a medical facility, reporting to the facility's CEO. They oversee overall clinical performance; communicate with a variety of physicians, directors, and medical staff; analyze service data; and recommend changes to ensure a consistent level of healthcare. They also follow up on federal, state, and local compliance issues. The CMO must understand how all facility departments work together. An MD or similar degree, an active medical license, and eight or more years of management experience are requirements for this position.

Ophthalmology Professor

Providing guidance, education, and training to ophthalmology students may be the next career step for an experienced ophthalmologist looking for a change in venue. Postsecondary ophthalmology instructors are responsible for teaching, advising, and grading doctoral students. In addition to these responsibilities, they may also be expected to participate on college committees and publish academic research. An active license in the institution's state is a common requirement. Full-time, tenure-track positions at large universities also often expect postsecondary teaching experience, which can be gained through adjunct teaching.

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