American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) President Harry A. Zink, MD, is a lot like most academy members. Dr. Zink is a comprehensive ophthalmologist who is in private practice in the Midwest with three partners. More than 88% of ophthalmologists are in private practice and 70% practice comprehensive ophthalmology a majority of the time. And, as secretary for member services from 1998 to 2004, he also knows a lot about you, having reviewed many surveys exploring members' major concerns and opinions.
One of the questions on many of these surveys is one that members probably often ask themselves: "If you had it to do over again would you still become an ophthalmologist?" Below, Dr. Zink explores this question:
How many times a week are we asked this, or ask it of ourselves? It is a legitimate question in this time of decreasing reimbursement, increasing malpractice costs, increasing regulation, increasing practice costs, scope of practice issues, economic credentialing, pay-for-performance, etc. Maybe as we start another year it is worthwhile to consider our answer.
Despite what you might think, most members agree. The last member survey in 2005 showed that 79% of members are satisfied or very satisfied with their career choice. That trend has steadily increased from 72% in 1998. Among general ophthalmologists, 57% would strongly recommend ophthalmology as a career to a college student (up from 43% in 1998), while 67% of those in a primarily subspecialty practice would strongly recommend it. Also, more ophthalmologists are very satisfied with their practice situation now (61%) than in 1998 (54%).
As always, the academy can't address the multiple challenges ahead of us without you. Most of the academy's success in preserving and improving ophthalmology was realized through the hard work and continued support of all academy members. As we begin the new year, it's useful to look back at what we accomplished together in 2005: