Leadership of United States Academic Departments of Ophthalmology: Chairperson Characteristics, Accomplishments, and Personal Insights

Gad Dotan*, Hanya M. Qureshi, Steven S. Saraf, Deborah A. Darnley-Fisch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To report on the characteristics, accomplishments, and past experiences of current academic ophthalmology department chairs. Design Cross-sectional study. Methods SETTING: A confidential online survey. STUDY POPULATION: Total of 111 chairs of US academic ophthalmology departments. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Chairs' general characteristics, training/former positions held, academic accomplishments, previous organization/committee involvement, motivation/insight, and overall work satisfaction. Results Fifty-five chair responses were received (96% male, mean age 57 years, mean term 7 years). The majority were American medical graduates (93%), full professors of ophthalmology (93%), and permanent chairs (96%). All completed their residency in the US and 96% completed a fellowship (25% vitreoretinal surgery, 22% cornea and external disease, and 20% glaucoma). On average, chairs authored 98 peer-reviewed articles, 2 books, and 11 book chapters. They were also significantly involved in peer-reviewed journal literature, serving as editors (20%), associate editors (18%), or editorial board members (60%). The majority of chairs indicated they decided to seek their position late in their career, having already become a full (33%) or associate professor (26%), primarily owing to a desire to build and promote an academic ophthalmology department (61%). Chairs regarded their experience as head of service as most important for their current performance as department heads. Their principal advice to aspiring ophthalmology chairs was to focus on developing skills as a clinician, researcher, and educator (“triple threat”). Conclusions Overall, academic department chairs are accomplished leaders in ophthalmology and prolific authors with an established academic record. Chairs regarded their previous leadership roles within the department as invaluable to their effectiveness as chair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
StatePublished - Feb 2018


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