view from the top
Why Don't O.D.s Make
Optometry is a
top job, so why are the financial rewards so few?
eight years of college, perhaps a residency and surely lots of student debt, the
average O.D. makes only $93,670 and only 5% make more than $113,888. This information
came from a recent Money magazine article that ranked the "Top 50 Best Jobs in America."
While I was proud to find us at slot #22, I found the dollar amount offensively
While we could argue the meth-odology and outcome
of the research, if the numbers were doubled, I'd still be troubled. My point is
we aren't making nearly what we deserve! So, why exactly do we make so little money?
Our profession has an altruistic legacy
that is choking our bottom lines. Free or extremely low fee office visits for "It's
just a red eye and you don't need to worry about it," are pervasive in optometry.
These situations are virtually non-existent in other branches of medicine. But emulating
our medical peers isn't the core issue. The phrase, "that's what ophthalmologists
do," has always bothered me. There are many similarities between the two professions.
But to hold out M.D.s' financial policies and practices as the yardstick that we
measure ourselves against doesn't address the real issue. Instead, we should look
at why an M.D. would charge for a "simple red eye" visit and emulate that mindset.
Do M.D.s charge for these visits because they can or because they should? I would
argue it's the latter.
Like our M.D. counterparts, we're smart,
we've dedicated a huge chunk of our lives to education and we've taken risks. It
is those things we should be compensated for. If we can diagnose a benign subconjunctival
hemorrhage in a millisecond, we deserve to be paid for the years of academic angst
that led up to that diagnosis.
3 Best Jobs in America
3 Financial advisor
|* Job position based on compensation and potential job growth.
Based on information from salary.com.
What about insurance?
Insurance companies put a ceiling on what we can
charge as well. (More correctly stated, the ceiling is what we can collect, not
charge an important and oft overlooked difference.) In our consulting company's
experience, most doctors who deal with a lot of insurance charge well below that
It's not about "working the insurance
system" and that commonly heard phrase, "not leaving money on the insurance table."
It's not about price gouging. Rather, it's quite simply about charging what you're
worth as that value relates to patients!
Another strategy is to do what we do
with our clients. Carefully examine the insurance companies you contract with. If
they don't pay you what you know you're worth, consider eliminating those plans.
You'll find the newly- constructed ceiling is full of holes for your profits to
What's it worth?
This forum isn't the place to recommend you raise
your fees. In fact, doing so might be illegal. Each of us needs to look in our practice-building
mirrors and ask the question, "Am I charging what I'm worth?" If you're not, it's
time for some serious introspection and some positive changes.
So, how much should O.D.s make? There
isn't a set number, but the ceiling should only be limited by your abilities, desire
to make more money, imagination in developing and marketing and the depth of entrepreneurial
spirit. Other, artificial barriers are the reason the Money figures are so low.
DR. GERBER IS THE
PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY SPECIALIZING
IN MAKING OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN
WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER
AT (800) 867-9303.
Optometric Management, Issue: June 2006