You can learn a lot browsing among the posters at a scientific conference like last October’s American Academy of Ophthalmology. One of the posters that caught our eye in Chicago answered the question: what is the financial value of a degree in ophthalmology?

The authors (from the Center for Value Based Medicine and from Emory University School of Medicine) calculated the “internal rate of return” (IRR—the annual return on an investment) on a variety of medical specialties, including ophthalmology. They based their calculation on the costs (including the cost of all post-graduate training and the salary foregone during training) and the average incomes of ophthalmologists. They also assumed a 4% annual raise.

They found that ophthalmologists had an IRR of 21.6%, meaning an annual return of $21.60 for every $100 spent on training. That’s very good, but surgeons, anesthesiologists, and cardiologists did better (IRRs of 23% to 25%). And healthcare attorneys did better still (25.9%).

For more information, you can contact the authors of the study here: