Hanging Up the Stethoscope?

What happens when it's "that time"? "That time" defined as "YOU" laying on the beach with a Mai Tai or "YOU" finally purchasing that Jaguar F type 2 door convertible you always wanted or better yet "YOU" and your spouse are able to travel the world because the kids are out of the house and the grandkids are back in school.

"Retirement may be an ending, a closing, but it is also a new beginning."

Catherine Pulsifer

Retirement is defined as that point in time when you cease from doing work to earn a living and are no longer a part of the workforce. In most countries the state or private companies have legal, social and financial provisions to support and protect the needs and rights of retired persons. In today’s world most of us will not fully retire but will transition to a period of semi-retirement. This is partly due to the need to continue earning to subsidize what is expected to be “a less than adequate pension”. For some they chose to be semi-retired as work albeit reduced hours of work provide occupational therapy.

Medical doctors are counted among the more privileged in societies with long stability of tenure. The fact that they can potentially earn fairly substantial salaries and amass wealth does not make them immune from the common errors committed by persons who fail to plan adequately for the retirement years.

Options on Retirement

The average age for retirement across the world is between 50-70 years old. Doctors who retire early may do so for the following reasons:

1. It is a luxury that they can afford.

2. Disability which can be mental or physical. Common disabilities are sight, hearing, crippling arthritis etc.


Deteriorating health due to advanced non-communicable disease

For other physicians who are in good health and choose to work beyond the retirement years they have the options to:

1. Continue to work full-time in their private practice

2. Work part-time a few days/hours per week, while allowing a junior partner to take charge

3. Retire from work and engage in a leisure activity of choice such as sailing, playing golf, traveling overseas etc.

4. Retire from work and participate in voluntary medical missions

5. Retire from work for some well-earned rest and later return to work part-time

6. Retire from work and later return to work full-time as a contracted worker.

Planning for Retirement

We should plan for retirement as if we were planning a long term project taking into account all that is needed for the successful execution, projected cost, risks and contingencies. Another approach is to carefully examine what contributes to our well-being (holistically) and project what will be needed in the retirement years to sustain this. Contributing to our overall well-being are the following:

1. Financial security

2. Physical health and fitness

3. Mental wellness

4. Social adjustment and support

5. Vocational accomplishments

6. Healthy relationships

7. Maturing spirituality

How these needs are being met now and projecting where there might be gaps once you retire is a critical exercise. To at least contemplate these needs which could arise in the retirement years will buffer some of the surprises which may take you off guard.

Life after Retirement

It is important to note that for many, retirement will not be without health and financial challenges. As we age we are at greater risk of severe non-communicable diseases such as cardio-vascular disease some may even require surgical interventions, stroke and terminal cancers. A combination of adequate medical insurance, supportive family and friends and early diagnosis and treatment all contribute to the best possible medical outcome.

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