For most of us, the idea of retirement sounds fabulous. More time to spend on the golf course, no more hectic schedules to keep track of, and no more of those pesky after-hours emergency calls for work-related problems to deal with. Ah, it just sounds perfect…right?
…But, its not all its cracked up to be. Sure, retirement may seem like a great milestone in the golden years of your life. And yes, it would supply you with ample time for exploring hobbies and traveling–it’s just that many newly-retired physicians quickly realize that it’s not easy to hangup the white coat for good after all.
Shortly after the “honeymoon” phase of retirement has ended, it begins to dawn on the retired doctor that they feel like something is missing. Especially for those who opt for an earlier than planned retirement due to unforeseen circumstances, like sudden personal health issues. But, when the initial grandeur of sleeping-in fades away and you suddenly find yourself with a critical case of cabin-fever, its time to maybe rethink your retirement decision. For many medical professionals, they want to give up working their full-time gigs, but do not want to completely give up being a doctor.
Reasons why physicians go back to work:
- Financial reasons- We all know retirement is not what it used to be. Many physicians discover that their retirement income cannot sustain their lifestyles. Taxes in certain states can also deduct much of the income for retired physicians. For this reason, some decide to return to the office. (TIP: Before officially retiring, make sure you project your financial needs up until the age 100 to avoid issues like this.)
- Boredom- Suddenly faced with an abundance of time is a completely different lifestyle. After decades in a high-energy work structure, it can be a shock to find yourself suddenly struggling just watching the clock tick slowly.
- Emotional reasons- Physicians struggle with the inner-turmoil in their heads when they retire; feeling like they’ve abandoned their visions.
- Retirement is not for everyone- Society plus the thought that “we need to retire” in our heads. This is not true. If you’re happy, healthy, and still successfully treating patients you don’t need to stop just because you can. Sure, you may be financially well-off enough to just stop working. But, if practicing medicine is what you live for, why give it up?
- Teaching- Educating young people instead of working in a practice is a great alternative to completely throwing in the towel completely. Why not share your experience and expertise with students? Plus, its rewarding knowing you are still contributing to the field. The hours are easier, the workload stress is reduced and you still are working so you won’t be as bored as those who completely retire. Its a win-win.
- Part-time practice- Choosing to only practice part-time allows for doctors who are thinking about completely retiring to get a feel for it first. Working less may be the best choice for someone who bores easily but does not want to struggle with work. For example, if you have a mild health ailment like easily fatigued, part-time work allows for ample rest time to recover. Plus, its a great way to still be practicing your passion.
- Locum jobs– For many physicians that want to still practice, but don’t want to get tied down to the bureaucracy; many choose temporary travel positions. With this option they get to basically pick and choose where they want to go. It allows for older physicians to earn good money, travel and have the flexibility to only work short increments. Some doctors that come out of retirement decide to come back into the profession by taking on travel assignments every few months. If you’re someone that likes change, doing a few short assignments away from home a year might be the best alternative.
- Giving back to the community- Although volunteering is not a paid position, it still can be a great way to still continue helping others as a trained physician. You can still showcase your talents and be rewarded by making a difference in the community. Perhaps you can guest-speak at a university or volunteer to help the less fortunate.