It is never too early to consider how and when you would like to retire. Choices made early in your career directly impact options available later in your career. For more information, please review Helpful Hints When Beginning Medical Practice.

Retirement. A word full of hope for some, a word of fear for others, and ignored by most physicians. It is a stage of life that is often not well understood, a stage of life that may poorly planned and managed. Some sees it as a reward after a long and productive life, a reward made of endless leisure, where the goal is rest and fun, away from pain and distress — an everlasting vacation.

Others see it as a time of decline. Some physicians may see it as the beginning of the end when old age, dementia, disease, and boredom will take hold of their last few years, an obligatory transition to prepare them for death*.

Unfortunately, many physicians may not see retirement other than those two extreme views. Except for financial articles, it is rare to read something on retirement in medical magazines, and there may be a lack of role models to show physicians what a successful retirement could look like. For many, it feels emotionally safer to ignore the issue, and continue their practice if their body and mind will allow. 

In addition to the financial benefit of getting paid, continuing to work may provide a sense of purpose, security in established relationships with patients and colleagues, and a predetermined schedule so there is no mystery about how to fill your day. 

For many physicians, it is the perceived loss of identity which can cause the most stress. 

For these reasons and more, it is integral to consider the emotional, relational, social, and financial implications of retiring.

* Dr. Robert Marion. On Retirement: Thoughts of an Academic Physician. The Doctor’s Table Blog. August 62013