Objective: To identify factors influencing graduating ophthalmology residents to pursue subspecialty training or a career in comprehensive ophthalmology. Design: Cross-sectional study. Participants: Residents graduating from U.S. ophthalmology residency programs who participated in the ophthalmology match program. Methods: An anonymous survey was sent to each graduating ophthalmology resident in the United States between February 1, 2003, and February 28, 2003. Demographic data and information relating to medical school and residency training, career goals, and factors influencing career choices were collected from the surveys. Main Outcome Measure: The decision to pursue or not to pursue fellowship training. Results: The individual response rate was 50.8% (222/437), and 74.1% (86/116) of residency training programs responded to the survey. After completion of residency training, 64% (142/222) were pursuing subspecialty training and 36% (80/222) planned to practice comprehensive ophthalmology. In a multivariate analysis, factors that predicted subspecialty training included a desire to acquire special skills (odds ratio [OR], 13.81) and a perceived more favorable job market (OR, 3.23) and prestige (OR, 3.20). Anticipated work hours (OR, 0.37) and preferred geographic location (OR, 0.47) were predictors of a career in comprehensive ophthalmology. Residents choosing comprehensive ophthalmology careers were more likely to plan to practice in a group private practice, and those seeking subspecialty training were more likely to intend to practice in a university setting or were undecided in their future practice type (OR, 2.04). Conclusions: Several factors influenced career choices among graduating ophthalmology residents. A desire to acquire special skills and perceived prestige and job market were major factors influencing ophthalmology residents to seek subspecialty training. Lifestyle considerations were more important to residents choosing a comprehensive ophthalmology career. There were significant differences in practice preferences among residents pursuing or not pursuing subspecialty training.
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