DOI: 10.1097/icu.0000000000000975 ISSN: 1040-8738

Alternative career paths for ophthalmologists

Natalia F. Callaway, Emmett T. Cunningham
  • Ophthalmology
  • General Medicine


Traditionally, ophthalmologists complete training and then choose a clinical care setting. The skills required to become an ophthalmologist can be applied to a variety of alternative career paths within and beyond healthcare. Not unexpectedly, therefore, there is a growing trend for ophthalmologists to explore alternative career paths in both healthcare and the life science industry more broadly. In this invited editorial, we summarize the more commonly considered ‘alternative career paths,’ and provide personal perspectives that have helped us and others when weighing such options.

Recent findings

Prior to pursuing an alternative career path, it is important to reflect on one's motivations and goals. A number of alternative careers paths are available, and the choice of when and what to pursue is both personal and personalizable. While it can be difficult to know a priori whether and to what extent a given path will be both enjoyable and rewarding, insights and advice from those who have walked that path before you can be invaluable. We review the more common paths of administrative leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation, product development, healthcare policy, nonprofit organizations, and investing, noting that these are just examples of the many options currently available.


Ophthalmologists should feel empowered to design a career that is both purposeful and personally meaningful, as this will result ultimately in the greatest happiness and fulfillment. There is a world of opportunity available to those who are willing to explore and create their own path.

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