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Anyone know any early retiree MDs?

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  • Anyone know any early retiree MDs?

    There are multiple blogs about early retirement out there but I’ve never actually ran across a physician who took early retirement say before 55-60?  I’ve known some who went part time and unfortunately some who got sick but never anyone who actually retired early in my over 17 years in medicine.  In fact I’ve observed the opposite.  Multiple elderly physicians still practicing.  Those who retired were generally over 65.  If this is your experience also, why do you think this is?

  • #2
    My observation is the same in general. I know of one exception (don't know him personally).  Highly compensated specialist living in a LCOL.  My guess is that he was around 50 when he hung it up and worth at least 20 million.  I don't even know the whole story.  It wasn't planned, but he stayed on until his partners found a replacement and then he stopped completely.

    Everyone else I can think of has cut back significantly (like one day a week) but has not actually 100% stopped practicing.

    I don't know if you would call it retirement, but I know of several couples (mostly 2 physician, but sometimes one physician and one something else), where the a doc stops practicing under 40 while their high earning spouse continues to work.   Probably not what you're looking for, though.



    • #3
      I have a rad onc friend who retired at about 54 or 55. He was dragged back into action and only works when he is in town, two days per week now. He and his partner did not have kids.

      I have a friend from training, a few years ahead of me, who retired from his practice around age 55 and relocated to a golf Mecca in South Carolina.

      There was a part time rad who left our practice (perhaps not exactly on her own terms) in her mid-40's and never worked again. Her husband is a cardiothoracic surgeon, one of the busiest and most successful in town.

      There was a pathologist (whose wife is a rad) who retired from his practice in his early 40's but continued to do some side consulting and wrote a book.

      I know several docs who left their clinical practice to do other things in the realm of medicine and health care, but not direct patient care, and not retired.

      Most, if not all of the above, were either not the primary breadwinner or had no children (or both).

      I cannot think of a doc in my community who was a primary or sole breadwinner, who had kids, who retired early (before 60).


      • #4
        A lot of the Kaiser docs in my wife's facility continue to work part time after they "retire". Financially, they don't have to, but going part time seems to transform burnout load into borderline enjoyment(borderline that is).

        If you are willing to and are capable mentally to continue on after 60 or whenever you consider is adequate retiring age, you really do still contribute, vastly. If you can't/don't want to, by no means is that a moral failing. And certainly if you've gotten to this point you have certainly already contributed your fair share of societal value to the collective.


        • #5
          This may be a dumb question, but why don’t we see this? Type A personality/drive? Didn’t know what else to do? Golden handcuffs? Health insurance? I’d be interested to know people’s perspectives on this.


          • #6

            This may be a dumb question, but why don’t we see this? Type A personality/drive? Didn’t know what else to do? Golden handcuffs? Health insurance? I’d be interested to know people’s perspectives on this.
            Click to expand...

            Well, based on the other thread, it sounds like health insurance is like 95% of the reason.


            • #7
              @wonka31: This may be a dumb question, but why don’t we see this? Type A personality/drive? Didn’t know what else to do? Golden handcuffs? Health insurance? I’d be interested to know people’s perspectives on this.

              For me, unexpected ongoing expenses for adult children and surprise expenses for elderly parents would keep me in the game longer than otherwise would be warranted.


              • #8
                I would think that for many it’s financial and for some it’s the fear of giving up medicine.  It’s hard to imagine life without medicine for me as I’ve been in it from premed to mid career now for most of my life.   But on the other hand, it would be so nice to have time all to myself without stress, responsibility or time pressures.  This especially becomes apparent as I become older and time becomes more precious.


                • #9
                  I think there's a big difference between early retirement (gone fishin') vs choosing another path of activity and believe most of the <55 would be the latter than really hanging it all up to be like Slomo.    I believe it's because a vast majority of docs don't develop a hobby and also too Type A to let go of medicine easily.

                  I think many continue on simply because we can and actually do have choices after reaching FI where medicine is an old friend and pays rather well for minimal work.   As an outpatient internist, if I have may faculties about me at 60, I'd be guessing that I'd be in pretty high demand just as I try to wind down my practice.   I think it'll be harder than ever as patients age with me and we become a set of well worn gloves.


                  • #10
                    Given that odds are majority of us won’t be retiring early (even if we can), I wonder whether we should loosen the purse strings and enjoy life more, travel, go part time, buy the luxury car we always wanted?   Seems like most of us will most likely retire in our 60s+, we are saving, investing and being frugal for the benefit of our heirs.


                    • #11
                      We've already starting letting loose a little -- Just got a Tesla 3 this year.   Whether it's really realization of getting to FI or just mid-life/mid-career crisis, who knows.

                      Once the little ones get launched from college, we'll be 52 and probably go down in time just to be able to travel more and have weekenders.


                      • #12
                        I retired completely at 60. I had always had that age in mind, I guess mostly because of the 59 1/2 retirement withdrawal rules. I was majorly burned out and cutting back didn’t seem to be helping with it. Then one day I had a particularly stressful shift, and I thought, why are you doing this? You have enough to retire, so I sent my director my resignation then and there. No regrets.


                        • #13
                          This is fascinating. I also cannot think of anyone locally who has completely retired early.

                          Our plan was to work until about 50 (which is when all the kids will have left the nest), but after reading this thread, maybe not. I'll let you know in 5-7 years if our plan works out...

                          Maybe it is healthcare benefit, or the decent income, or the prestige/authority in the workplace that comes with being a physician.


                          • #14
                            PoF is poised to retire fairly soon in his early 40s, at least from medicine.


                            • #15
                              Retired just sort of 53.  Varied career but highly compensated in last 10 years.  Fairly frugal but not excessively.  Always bought new vehicles but they were Honda Odysseys and Acuras not Mercedes and Maseratis.  Four children, all went to private school K-8 and one K-12 (more expensive than university tuition), now in university, all funded for postgrad degrees if desired.  Not going to be buying the children homes but they were all paid by corp during high earning years so each has a low 6-digit portfolio.  Children and we have done very well thanks to market run up from 2008.  They have always been 100% equities (VTI).  No mortgages on home or cottage.  Vacations were skiing, sunshine and Europe so wouldn't say many corners cut there though always fly economy unless someone else is paying.  We are fortunate to be in Canada for several reasons - healthcare covered (drugs now covered for kids as well and hopefully soon a national pharma plan for all); corporate structures for MDs allowing much lower effective tax rates, income splitting and tax deferral; much lower college costs. Wife a low pay specialty MD who did not work for 10 years and part-time for most of the rest of her career.

                              I would consider myself Type A but didn't feel the need to work forever and saw that there were young folks who could likely perform better after being awake for 23 hours and needed the work.  Also of course once one is in the clear the BS buckets fill up pretty fast.  Life is too short and family too dear.  I still do a lot of teaching at my local medical school and overseas volunteer work.  Keeps me involved and feels like giving back but strictly on my schedule.   I do get paid for doing some overseas consulting, medicolegal work and teaching but any of it I would do and have done for free and the amounts are so small as to be inconsequential.  Except perhaps for medicolegal which can add up but is still mainly enjoyable. I will like stop doing the medicolegal soon but teaching in its many forms is too much fun to give up.