The Retirement Plan Physicians Should Consider

February 27, 2017

When do you plan on hanging up your stethoscope for good? Will it be your choice or your employer's choice?

The end is near. I was trained in a generation where physicians practiced until they physically or mentally could not do the job anymore. It was that time when they retired.

Many of the doctors during those years passed away while they were still in active practice. The word "retirement" was never mentioned in my training period. Fortunately, I started with an IRA that developed into a full retirement plan with investments.  Being the odd duck without a residence in family practice or internal medicine, none of the residents I approached over the years were interested in practicing with me and so I remained in solo practice.

When the local hospitals started buying practices, I was given a very small offer which I turned down and then was left alone. Today all the primary-care physicians that were at the hospital during my residency period are gone. Some were fired by the hospital and the rest retired on their own or by not having their contract renewed. From what I have seen, they have not done well in retirement as none of them really planned on what to do with those years remaining.

The adjustment from a busy practice making decisions all day long to the quiet of a full-time home life with the spouse went well initially, but problems started occurring with how to fill in the hours of the day. You can only do so much traveling and visiting family. Most had never developed hobbies or other interests being so wrapped up in the practice of medicine. A lot of them went downhill mentally and some even got a part time job in a field unrelated to medicine to stay active. A few are teaching at the local medical school.

When you retire will it be your choice or that of your employer? What are your plans when the end comes?