Samuel Masket, MD, discussed the aging physician and the aging of practicing ophthalmologists at the 2023 ASCRS annual meeting in San Diego.
Editor’s note: Transcript lightly edited for clarity.
Hi, good afternoon. I'm Dr. Samuel Masket from Los Angeles, and as you might tell by my gray hair, I am an aging physician. It's really interesting to note that 43% of members of the American Academy of Ophthalmology are considered to be senior ophthalmologists. That is, by definition, over the age of 60.
That brings up a whole subject many, many concerns about the aging physician, the aging of our profession. Are we replacing ourselves as fast as we're retiring? and how does the how does age impact us as practitioners? One of the concerns is that earlier in our training, there was very little, if any, concern about the health of the physician, whether it be physical health or mental health. And today, we're seeing the impact. Musculoskeletal disorders really affect the longevity of the practitioner. In fact, 15% of us retire prematurely, because of MSDs, or muscular skeletal disorders.
I hope that I can raise enough awareness for people to change this. I think, as a profession, we need to work with industry for better designs of diagnostic and operating equipment. I think we need also to work with the AUPO, and other training organizations, so they understand the need to protect the body of our trainees. You know, It's really remarkable that professional athletes spend massive amounts of money on their body, It's how they make a living. Well, the reality is, it's how we make a living and how we serve our patients ... and so I really think we need to be much more careful attention to the physical environment in which we work, and how we as individuals can help ourselves.
You know, Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach, said fatigue makes cowards of us all. Now, relating that football metaphor to ophthalmology, what it means is, if we're hurting, we're not going to be working at our top level. We're not going to serve our patients as best we can. So many of us are now getting involved in yoga programs and other things regarding wellness. So, I'm hoping that this brings attention to the subject, and that our young people will not have to suffer as we in my age group. Thank you.