Working life (ophthalmology)

This page provides useful information about the roles and responsibilities of ophthalmology, where they work, who they work with and what they feel about their role.

"I became an ophthalmologist because it allowed me to blend medicine and surgery in a highly technical environment and in a discipline which is evolving. I wanted the challenge of learning new skills and knowledge, and the satisfaction of highly effective treatments. Lower levels of night work, good career prospects and no requirement to initially train in general surgery were also factors in choosing this specialty." - Consultant ophthalmologist

A typical day in ophthalmology day may involve any of the following:

Most consultant ophthalmologists have two or three operating sessions per week, and three or four clinic sessions (which may include treatment clinics). Acute clinics (eye A&E) tend to be managed by staff doctors and trainees in regional eye casualty departments with senior advice available as required.

The work is based in operating theatres, outpatient clinics and increasingly in community clinics. There is a small amount of ward work.

On-call and working hours

Ophthalmology is mainly a nine-to-five specialty. Out-of-hours work is lighter than many medical specialties and shift work is unlikely. The specialist nature of eye emergencies means that ophthalmologists are required to be on call but ‘hospital at night’ generic teams deal with routine ward work out of hours. Small teams are on call overnight and at weekends.

The EU Working Time Directive limits the working week to 48 hours. It is also possible to work part-time once you are consultant, or to train on a less than full-time basis (conditions apply).

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