Retinal Medicine & Surgery Salaries in the USA


As I write this, there are possibly only about 1500 to 1600 practicing retinal surgeons in the United states in an overall pool of over 830,000 practicing MDs - that makes them fairly exclusive, and exclusivity in the health arena means huge dollars in income.

You will agree when I say high dollars, when you know that average yearly incomes these guys make hovers around $500,000 to $600,000 and can climb upto $800,000 a year on the higher end.

As I went through various online physician salary survey sites, the minimum for a Retinal Physician was about 250,000$, which climbs up quickly with incentives and production bonuses, pulling from the competition with higher offers and so on...

A 2010 Survey by Allied physicians quotes a minimum of $280,000 a year, an average of $469,000 a year and a Maximum of $716,000 a year for retinal physicians

Another survey on DrJobs.com quotes a minimum of $275,000 a year and a maximum of $711,000 a year.

In an excellent 2009 article, John Pinto talks about a whole lot of practical career issues and the money than a retinal practice can expect to generate. Here are some highlights:
- "As compared to the general ophthalmologists, retinal ophthalmologists can earn an extra $500,000 or so each year for an average of 33 years, which is nearly an extra $10 Million after taxes for just those two years in Fellowship Investment"
- Getting into a Retinal Fellowship is no easy task, as many of you might have guessed looking at the income potential - As Mr. Pinto puts it: "It takes luck, connections, brains, some lifestyle concessions and 2 years (5500 hours) to transform a general ophthalmologist into a retinal surgeon"

- The best setting for a retinal surgeon to work is probably a Group Single Sub specialty setting - meaning a group practice run only by fellow retinal physicians. "this is often the "sweet spot" of every sub specialty. In a group setting, call coverage is far less of a burden, costly capital investments can be shared, and an intellectual peer is just down the hall in the next office.", as Mr. Pinto rightly says.

- "The average doctor was generating annual collections of $1.3 million. The most productive practice generated $2.6 million in annual collections per doctor, and the least productive just $848000"
How to Become a Retinal Physician in America ?

Both Retinal Medicine and Retinal Surgery (Often called Vitreo-retinal surgery depending on the emphasis) career tracks take two years of Fellowship Training following a Residency in Opthalmology

Total Years for an American Medical Student = 14 Years, as follows:

4 Years of Pre-Med plus
4 Years of Medical School plus
1 + 3 Years of Ophthalmology Residency plus
2 Years of Retinal Fellowship (Medicine or Surgery)

Here's a sample look at a Vitreo-Retinal Fellowship at Mayo Clinic

International Medical Graduates who have completed residency training in opthalmology in their own countries have sometimes found fellowship spots in the US without doing a US Residency. They still need to take the USMLE Steps though. Read More about Direct Fellowships without Residency Here


And what's more - you don't have to be a retinal surgeon to earn as much - for example, you can simply be ;-) who in 2006 made more in a month than what a retinal surgeon would make in a year - or $737,868 per month , to be more specific :-p !

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