April 2011
Volume 52, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2011
The Ophthalmology Job Market in the Wake of the Great Recession
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Chukwuemeka C. Nwanze
    Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • Ron A. Adelman
    Ophthal & Visual Science, Yale Univ Sch of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Chukwuemeka C. Nwanze, None; Ron A. Adelman, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  Newman's Own, REI
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2011, Vol.52, 5535. doi:
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      Chukwuemeka C. Nwanze, Ron A. Adelman; The Ophthalmology Job Market in the Wake of the Great Recession. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):5535.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : To characterize the current state of the ophthalmology job market. To assess the impact of the recent recession on the ophthalmology job market.

Methods: : Analysis of three data sources: a 30 year help-wanted index (HWI) of physician recruitment advertisements appearing in the following journals: Ophthalmology, American Journal of Ophthalmology and Archives of Ophthalmology/ from January 1986 through October 2009; an electronic help-wanted index (e-HWI) derived from Professional Choices--the online physician recruiting site of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) from January 1999 through November 2010, and the data from the job fair at the AAO’s annual meetings from 2003 to 2010 to elucidate current and long-term trends in the ophthalmology job market.

Results: : According the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession lasted from December 2007 through June 2009. Despite the fact that the recession is over, there has been a significant decline in demand for ophthalmologists. The HWI showed a significant decrease in the annual number of advertised jobs from (177 to 139, p = 6.92 x 10^-5). The e-HWI showed a similar decrease (1,036 to 779, p = 0.0161). The AAO’s annual meeting job fair data demonstrated a reduced number of jobs per job seekers post-recession (0.492 to 0.330, p=8.87 x10^-8). The job fair data also revealed a geographical shift of demand away from suburban areas (52.6% to 43.9%, p = 0.00620) and towards smaller urban areas (24.5% to 34.8%, p = 7.61 x 10^-4). Job fair data also showed a reduction in ophthalmologist salaries with fewer offered >$200,000 (23.6% to 15.5%, p = 0.00157), more jobs offered $151,000 to $200,000 (11.9% to 19.8%, p = 0.00120) and more salaries listed as negotiable (35.3% to 44.2%, p = 0.00473). During the last two recessions (7/90-3/91 and 3/01-11/01) demand for ophthalmologists remained depressed three years after the end of the recessions (42.3%, p=0.00055, and 57.8%, p = 0.00028 respectively). Overall, HWI data demonstrates that demand for ophthalmologists has gone from peak to trough in 7 years (p = 8.89 x 10^-4).

Conclusions: : All three data sources, the HWI, the e-HWI and the data from the AAO national meeting job fair indicate that demand for ophthalmologist is still depressed, despite the fact that the great recession has ended. Low demand may be responsible for the reduced average compensation for ophthalmologists. Our long-term data suggests that the drop in demand secondary to a major recession will likely normalize about 7 years after the end of the recession, but the market is likely to be similar or worse in the short-run.

Keywords: clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: health care delivery/economics/manpower 

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