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Physician Retirement: 5 Things to Ask and Plan For

by Patricia O. Urquiaga | Jun 22, 2022 | Physicians, 401k, annuities, bonds, doctor, doctors, early retirement, financial advisor, financial freedom, financial planning, investments, life insurance, long-term care, medical license, pension, physician, physician retirement, retire, retirement, retirement age, retirement lifestyle, retirement plan, retirement planning, roth ira, savings, stocks
Physician Retirement: 5 Things to Ask and Plan For

Every year people retire after having long and successful careers. Therefore, physician retirement is not unheard of.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians are reducing work hours, choosing early retirement or to leave medicine period.

According to a recent survey from Mayo Clinic 1 in 5 doctors and 2 in 5 nurses plan to leave their current practice within the next 2 years.

Meanwhile, 1 in 3 doctors, advanced practice providers and nurses plan to reduce work hours in the next 12 months.

Burnout, workload, fear of infection, anxiety, and depression are all reasons why healthcare professionals are taking action.

Is It Time for Early Retirement?

Keeping in mind the statistics we just read, plus the ongoing physician shortage, you might think it’s time to plan early retirement.

Whether you’re self-employed, working for a healthcare facility, or are locum tenens, just know that retirement planning takes time.

One, you must ensure your retirement savings and/or investments are enough to sustain you for decades. That’s why, having a solid retirement and financial plan is key. With a plan in place, you can reach financial stability and live worry-free.

5 Physician Retirement Tips

If you are considering physician retirement, here are 5 things you should ask yourself and plan for:

  1. Why are you retiring? Take the time to really think about why you want to retire. Is it because you’re burned out? Does medicine not fulfill you anymore? Do you feel unaccomplished? Knowing the why will help you determine if retirement is the way. Or, maybe you just need to rectify a few areas in your life. These areas can be switching to part-time, working telemedicine hours, exploring a new facility etc.
  1. How do you envision your retirement lifestyle? Physician retirement looks different for everyone depending on the individuals circumstances, desires, health etc. So when you think about retirement, what does this look like? Does it resemble your current life? Or does it include more travel, leisure activities, entertainment etc.? Physicians often have a hard time envisioning what retirement looks like because adjustments will need to be made. It’s important for physicians to think about their expenses. Ask yourself “what will my living, transportation, food and other expenses be like in retirement?” In the end, expenses vary and will depend on your desire to either maintain a similar or better lifestyle.
  1. Are you financially prepared to retire? The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better. However, we know this isn’t always the case for people. If you’re unsure whether you’re ready to retire or not, consult a financial advisor for guidance. Financial advisors can help you:
  • calculate whether you have sufficient funds to retire
  • create a solid retirement and financial plan (i.e., retirement strategy, long-term investment plan, tax reduction strategy, estate plan etc.)
  • evaluate any incentives your company may be offering (i.e., enhanced pension benefits)
  • visualize long-term costs (i.e., medical) and more!

If you are considering retirement, have an in-depth conversation with your financial advisor. Allow them to walk you through different scenarios, discuss retirement goals, concerns etc.

  1. Have you reviewed your employment contract? Retiring as a physician isn’t like any other occupation. You cannot just walk away. Before informing your healthcare employer of your intent to retire, review your employment contract. Your employment contract includes stipulations about leaving a hospital or practice and timing requirements for the written notice. Once you review your physician contract, speak with a lawyer to ensure you understand all aspects of your pending retirement. In addition, there should be a section for patient records. How you handle patient records depends on the practice setting. If you work for an organization, they will oversee the management of your patients’ medical records. They will also notify them of your retirement. If you’re self-employed, consult your state medical board to understand their regulations when it comes to medical records. Consider also working with a business experienced in the storage and retrieval of medical records. When notifying patients of your retirement, two things to remember. 1) Let them know who will be handling their medical records; and, 2) include an address in case patients need to contact you.
  2. Should you maintain your medical license? When the COVID-19 outbreak occurred, some physicians felt called to come out of retirement to help. COVID-19 has shown us that the future is unpredictable. If you let your license expire, renewing it can take 6+ months depending on the state. Plus, you’ll be hit with lapsed or penalty fees. Therefore, you must ask yourself “is there a chance I’ll return to practice after retiring?” If so, we recommend maintaining your medical license for about 2-5 years and board certifications active.

Celebrating a Milestone

Retiring as a physician is a huge milestone.

You’ve spent most of your years caring for others and now it’s time to take care of yourself.

Remember preparing for physician retirement takes time. You simply can’t just walk away. Plan for retirement young. Then seek the help of a financial advisor, so that you’re able to enjoy retirement worry-free and healthy.

If after reading this article, you’re ready to retire the white coat, we wish you the best of luck! But, if you realized its time for a chance, MASC can help you transition.

Contact us today to speak to a MASC recruiter.

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