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Tiffany Lo, Anthony John Hall, Lyndell L Lim; Differences in practice of ophthalmology by gender in Australia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):6170. doi: https://doi.org/.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
To assess gender differences in practice patterns and remuneration amongst Australian ophthalmologists.
Descriptive study of practice patterns among Australian ophthalmologists in 2014. De-identified data from the Department of Health, Medicare Australia, Medical Board of Australia, and surveys from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) and the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) study were analyzed, according to ophthalmic subspecialty, hours worked, service provision fees and remuneration.
Of the 954 ophthalmologists who claimed from Medicare Australia in 2014, 181 (19%) were female. The RANZCO 2014 workforce survey had 843 respondents, where 187 (22%) were female, and of the 91 ophthalmologists responding to the MABEL 2014 survey, 27 (19%) were female. The median net personal annual income was $AUD245 000 (IQR 180 000–365 000) for males compared to $AUD122 500 (IQR 96 000-225000) for females (p=0.01). The median self-reported hours worked per week was 35.0 (IQR 28.0-46.0) for females and 41.8 (IQR 36.5-48.5) for males (p= 0.04). This highlights a discrepancy in income/hours worked, as the median hours worked per week for females was 84% of the median hours worked per week for men, yet median income for females was half of that of males.Possible reasons for this were analysed including duration and types of consultations and provider fees. We found that although males and females charged a similar fee per consultation ($AUD131.57 for males and $AUD139.53 for females), there was a trend towards slightly longer consultation times with females (median of 20 minutes (IQR 20-30) for females vs. 20 minutes (IQR 15-25) for males). Males also had a greater number of consultations in 2014, with 992 consultations/male ophthalmologist in the calendar year, compared with 620 per female ophthalmologist. Male ophthalmologists also performed a greater number of surgeries, with a mean of 188 cataract operations/year compared to 97 per female ophthalmologist/year.
Males make up the majority of the ophthalmology workforce in Australia. Female ophthalmologists work fewer hours and earn less compared to male ophthalmologists despite similar consultation fees and accounting for the number of hours worked. The difference in remuneration may be partially accounted for by the proportionally higher number of procedures performed by male ophthalmologists.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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