Ophthalmology Business

OCT 2013

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

Issue link: http://digital.ophthalmologybusiness.org/i/197424

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Opportunities and challenges abound for new women physicians W omen physicians have some advantages in ophthalmology— and the requisite challenges. It's well known that more females are entering medicine in general as well as ophthalmology. Data from the American Medical Association show that the number of women physicians among all specialties leaped from 195,500 in 2000 to nearly 309,700 in 2011. In ophthalmology, the percentage of female physicians increased 63% in that same time period, from 2,628 in 2000 to 4,131 in 2011 (compare that to only 395 in 1975). About 50% of residency spots are held by women now, said Eric D. Donnenfeld, MD, clinical professor of ophthalmology, New York University, New York. "Healthcare in general and ophthalmology are undergoing a transformation led by women," Dr. Donnenfeld said. Medical societies are even stepping up to become more inclusive, said Dr. Donnenfeld, the current president of ASCRS. He noted that more than 50% of the members of the ASCRS Young Physicians Committee are women and that there are dynamic women leaders on other clinical committees. The benefits Ophthalmology is an attractive specialty for females and males alike who are interested in innovation and care continuity. "I like the surgical aspects and the continuum of care with ophthalmology," said Valerie Trubnick, MD, Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island, Rockville Centre, N.Y. Dr. Trubnick had originally considered another specialty but was lured by ophthalmology's continuous innovations and the rich potential for future research. "Ophthalmology is a specialty on the frontier of new and exciting treatments and technology," said Marsha D. Link, PhD, Link Consulting, Irvine, Calif., a firm specializing in executive coaching and practice development, and presidentelect of Ophthalmic Women Leaders (OWL). "The specialty thrives on thinking outside of the box." With the Baby Boomer explosion in healthcare and the expansion of premium lenses, females have a great chance to help guide families through their ophthalmic decisions, said Audrey Talley-Rostov, MD, cornea, cataract, and refractive surgeon and partner, Northwest Eye Surgeons, Seattle. Yet another reason that ophthalmology may appeal to physicians in training is that it's possible to have a life outside of practice, said Sandra Yeh, MD, Springfield, Ill. "There are decent office hours, and the specialty allows for a family life," she said. "I'm usually home around 5 or 6." "It's easier to achieve a work-life balance. There are relatively few emergencies compared with other specialties," said Dr. Talley-Rostov. Being female, Dr. Yeh said she has an easier time emotionally connecting with her patients—she can offer a hug to patients or affection that might seem more odd coming from a male ophthalmologist, she said. She also will broach topics in a patient's personal life if she is aware of them, such as children or a spouse's illness or death. Females in ophthalmology are also proud to serve as leaders for the younger generation. Dr. Trubnick said a patient recently brought his daughter to the practice so the daughter could meet a female role model. … And the challenges Of course, that doesn't mean that female ophthalmologists have a cakewalk nowadays—far from it. Practices and conferences are still primarily male dominated, and some old-school thinking still exists, Dr. Donnenfeld said. Although ophthalmology lends itself better to the elusive work-life balance than some other specialties, finding time for everything is a perennial challenge, Dr. Yeh said. "You're inevitably juggling two careers—one in the office and one at home," said Dr. Yeh, who is the principal partner of six offices with 115 employees—and the mother of two children, ages 13 and 19. Because of the time crunch, one thing that often gets short shrift is networking with optometrists who could potentially send business Dr. Yeh's way. She tells the story of a continued on page 10 October 2013 • Ophthalmology Business 9

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