What do you do for a living?
I am an ophthalmologist.
How would you describe what you do?
I am a medical doctor specializing in the care of the eyes. On a daily basis I examine people’s eyes for any evidence of eye disease. If I find any disease process, I either begin therapy or refer them to a doctor more experienced than I in that particular problem. My special area of interest and therefore skill is Laser Vision Correction and I always help people get rid of their glasses and contact lenses.
What does your work entail?
People come to me for eye exams and to find out if they are candidates for Laser Vision Correction. If they are good candidates, I counsel them as to the risks and benefits and then perform Epi-LASIK for them.
What’s a typical work week like?
My office is open Monday 12-8; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9-5; and every other Saturday morning. I take off Wednesdays.
How did you get started?
I had my first eye exam at age 5, got glasses and discovered that “trees have leaves”. When I went to Medical School at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, TN, the first course that excited me was ophthalmology.
What do you like about what you do?
Being that I have had surgery on my eyes to get rid of glasses, I love helping other people do the same.
What do you dislike?
When I do eye exams, I have to answer to insurance companies.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
For eye exams, the insurance companies pay a part of the bill. The rest we just have to write off. For Laser Vision Corrections, the patients pay out of pocket.
How much money do ophthalmologists make?
It is really variable. It can probably be as little as $100,000 a year to well over one million, depending on what type of practice it is and what type of surgery is performed by the doctor.
How much money do/did you make starting out as an ophthalmologist?
My first year, I worked for another doctor and made about $120,000.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to become an ophthalmologist?
After high school, 4 years of college, 4 years of Medical School, one year of Internship, 3 years of Residency, and then possibly Fellowship.
What is most challenging about what you do?
It is critical to be precise.
What is most rewarding?
The day after Laser Vision Correction surgery, patients give me hugs.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Make sure you spend some time with an Ophthalmologist in his/her office seeing what they do.
How much time off do you get/take?
Average 3-4 weeks a year.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Many people do not understand that Ophthalmologists are Medical Doctors while Optometrists are not.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
I’d like to have more time to travel.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
Ophthalmologists have to love working with people, helping them, and working with “gadgets”.