More Retirement Advice
I thought your “Retirement Tips” article fell short of giving tested, practical advice to the many ACEP members facing retirement questions. It did so precisely because it solicited input from well-known, august, and wonderful over-achieving emergency physicians. It lacked tips from a single, simple, everyday emergency physician who had not achieved national business or leadership success.
My tips would have been quite different. I did full-time clinical medicine for 40 years. Yes, I had volunteer stints in ACEP leadership, but no business or practice leadership. And I’ve been retired for two years now, for real, unlike any of the honored leaders you quoted. Here’s what I would have said:
Plan to retire before they ask you to retire. Night shifts are impossible in your sixties. Your body starts slowing down in your fifties and you’ll have noticeable and significant physical slowing in your sixties, making it harder to keep up the pace of a busy ED shift. Your mental endurance will also decrease. See if you like urgent care or clinics, but realize that that is not emergency medicine (I didn’t like them: busy and boring).
Pick a date and stick to it. Prepare yourself for the realization that you will never be a practicing doctor again, but that you will be starting a different life of your choice. Make sure the mortgage is paid off (my biggest mistake) and the kids are on their way in life. Keep your medical license for a year to be sure you don’t have regrets and want to go back to practice. If you don’t resume practice, most of us will not be able to afford the cost of maintaining a license and DEA registration and CME; surrender your license and be proud of your MD, your FACEP, and your past career.
Focus on your new career. ED docs have many interests; pick some and make a new career. I chose medical school admissions committee and lilac horticulture as my main hobbies; they are just as fulfilling although a bit lonelier, especially since, like in a divorce, many people you cared about fall out of your life. But others will arise to take their place.
Now that you have more time for family, don’t expect them to have time for you. They are busy with their lives and careers. Your spouse, however, can be a wonderful source of companionship and comfort. And grandchildren are so much more interesting and fun than children.