September 25, 2013
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BLOG: $1 million mistake? Not for ophthalmologists

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Read more blog posts from Uday Devgan, MD

The title of a recent CBS article certainly grabbed my attention, “$1 Million Mistake: Becoming a Doctor.” With a title like that I just had to click on the link to read the article.

It turns out that a recent survey of physicians showed that most were dissatisfied with their jobs and most would not choose to go into medicine if they were able to do it all again. That comes as a surprise to me since just about every ophthalmologist I meet enjoys helping patients and performing ocular surgery. Sure, when it comes to paperwork, reimbursement and bureaucracy, we are in the same boat as the other physicians, but there's something special about being trusted with our patients' most precious sense, their sight.

Upon closer review of the study, only 15 medical specialties were ranked. Ophthalmology is not on the list.

From each medical school class, only a handful choose ophthalmology residency. The total number of ophthalmology residency spots per year is about 450, while there are about 17,500 medical school graduates per year. We can extrapolate this to estimate that only 2.5% of MDs in the United States are ophthalmologists. And with such small numbers, we didn't make the list

I'm very satisfied with my career choice – in fact, I don't think I could be happier in any other field, in or out of medicine. Ophthalmology brings together beautiful surgery, mathematical elegance (well, not quite as elegant when we're doing IOL calcs in a post-RK patient, but that's another article) and the ability to make a tremendous improvement in the lives of many.