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Any ophthalmic PAs out there who can share their experiences? Is it too hard for an ophthalmologist to employ a PA? I currently work as a scribe/tech in an ophthalmologist office, just wondering if there any further careers out there in the same field. Will be applying next cycle! 

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not an ophthalmic PA, but I am starting PA school in July and currently work as a scribe/tech/surgical coordinator in a small private office. I have talked in detail about this with my physician (he primarily does cataracts and blephs). It seems like a PA would be best implemented in a practice that does a lot of surgeries to do a review of systems and regular exam prior to surgery. There are very few ophthal PAs out there, but it seems like most of them work with the bigger practices and function similarly to an OD (except add the ability to surgical assist but most procedures don't need multiple hands). 

 

Personally, I love the field and would enjoy practicing in it. I don't really enjoy refracting but I could foresee myself getting stuck doing refraction after refraction and routine exams all. day. long. and less procedural/complex stuff.

 

I did read of a PA who went into ophthalmology and did a month+ long training course to learn the basics (slit lamp, etc.). I hope ophthalmic PAs become more prevalent soon! 

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Any ophthalmic PAs out there who can share their experiences? Is it too hard for an ophthalmologist to employ a PA? I currently work as a scribe/tech in an ophthalmologist office, just wondering if there any further careers out there in the same field. Will be applying next cycle! 

have you thought about an OD program? pretty nice scope of practice and optometrists are gaining practice rights in many states. 3-4 yrs of school vs 28ish months for pa...(there are both 3 and 4 yr programs).

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In PA school one is trained in ophthalmology including how to do funduscopic exams, the proper use of an ophthalmoscope, and how to treat all the run-of-the-mill eye issues. However this is not nearly to the level of OD or an MD ophthalmologist. The answer of "refer to an OD or ophthalmologist" is regularly the correct answer on exams.

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have you thought about an OD program? pretty nice scope of practice and optometrists are gaining practice rights in many states. 3-4 yrs of school vs 28ish months for pa...(there are both 3 and 4 yr programs).

I have been looking into that as well. I just like the flexibility of being a PA where you don't necessarily have to stay in one specialty your entire life. So I was just wondering if ophthalmology was a specialty that PAs can work in, but I see now that their job duties would essentially be what an optometrist does. Thanks for the insight! 

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I have been looking into that as well. I just like the flexibility of being a PA where you don't necessarily have to stay in one specialty your entire life. So I was just wondering if ophthalmology was a specialty that PAs can work in, but I see now that their job duties would essentially be what an optometrist does. Thanks for the insight! 

an OD has a broader scope of practice with regards to the eye and in some states they are gaining "non-scalpel surgical rights" to do things like LASIK, etc

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I spent over 20 years in ophthalmology and did my masters paper on the use of PAs in ophthalmology.  From my research there are not many, but they are out there.  They are used as a medical ophthalmologist, treating acute injuries and infections, chronic conditions like monitoring retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, etc.  Refractions can be done, but not for prescription purposes- almost how a lot of tech's can refract.  Most that I found were located on the eastern side of the country.  A quick google search is how I found most of them.   All the PAs I spoke with learned everything on the job from an ophthalmologist that was willing to train.  Some had worked in ophthalmology before, others had not. It can be done, as long as a willing supervising MD/ophthalmologist can be found.  

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On 12/28/2016 at 11:28 PM, rev ronin said:

Whether a PA could function doing refractions would vary from state to state; in Washington, it's explicitly prohibited:

 

http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=18.71A&full=true#18.71A.060

Do you happen to know which other states explicitly prohibit PAs from doing refractions? I did some searching and found that in New Jersey it is prohibited, but otherwise I didn't come across any other states.

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7 minutes ago, marcanomj said:

Do you happen to know which other states explicitly prohibit PAs from doing refractions? I did some searching and found that in New Jersey it is prohibited, but otherwise I didn't come across any other states.

No clue, sorry.  You might be able to find someone at AAPA who keeps track of such things.

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5 minutes ago, rev ronin said:

No clue, sorry.  You might be able to find someone at AAPA who keeps track of such things.

No worries! Great suggestion, I will look into that. Thank you!

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