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Physicians who work their entire lives

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  • #16
    When looking at fellow pediatricians, including the obits in the AAP news, there are so many who remain active past 70. That probably won't be me. My plan is traditional retire in 60s. Spouse loves job too and has tenure, so that's a big personal plus. So unless unexpected illness, it'll be a good life including work.

    I don't regret the 10 year detour in my 20s to be a physician. Before the career change, I learned what corporate life is like. That was awful, like living inside the Office Space movie. I need meaningful work. It would be nice to have something else I really love, but nothing else has compared to peds for me (7 years practicing).

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    • #17
      I think it really depends on whether you experience what you do for a living as a job or as a passion. I love what I do, most of the time spent at work does not feel like work. We are planning on FI in our late 50s, but I will keep working way past that, I will just quit doing nights, weekends, holidays, and work 2-3 days/week.

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      • #18
        I’ve always been partly amused/partly saddened by the retired surgeons who still frequent the surgeons’ lounge to read the paper or eat lunch, or seemingly just hang out. My last day of work will be the last day in the hospital, except as a patient.

        I remember in some dumb humanities class I had to take in medical school how the instructor was almost appalled when we were taking about the “calling of being a physician,” and she asked me what I thought. I told her that being a physician was what I was doing with my life but not who I was as a person.

        My current plan is to work another 15-20 years (I am 39 now and 3.5 years out of fellowship). At that time my youngest child will be 21 to 26 and my kids should be launched by then, hopefully with at least undergrad completely paid for. If I want extra money for something it should be pretty easy to obtain locums work somewhere, but I imagine I would be pretty picky about the options.

        I remember in residency seeing an old general surgeon. His kids were vascular and general surgeons who did approaches for one of our spine surgeon’s ALIFs. They’d let their dad come in and close, and I had to stand there and watch him put vicryl through the skin on his subcutaneous layer over and over because he couldn’t see. Not for me, thanks.

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        • #19
          Thanks all for the wide range of responses; they provide plenty of food for thought.

          I do wonder how gratified I would feel from work if I could go to part time, get out of taking call, and never work another weekend.  I don't have that option right now in my current position, so I fantasize achieving infinite leisure through financial independence as a "reward" and the ultimate delayed gratification for putting up with it for another three years or so.  Missing out on social events and trips out of town because I have to go to the hospital has really gotten old.  I also no longer trust health care employers but also don't want the headache of running a business, which doesn't leave many clinical options.

          I'm hoping I can figure out the "retire to" part in the meantime.  Unfortunately most of us work so much that we lack time to discover what our other passions are.  Besides the fear of running out of time, one thing that makes it harder for me to relate to the 70+ year olds who continue to work is that most of them have their own families they can make a lot more time for without the stress of parenting, and most people they know are retired as well.  I'd hope that it's easier to replace the social stimulation one gets from coworker interactions at that point, but I know I could be mistaken.  I think good health, moderate intellectual stimulation, and a satisfactory social life are about all I really need.
          I sometimes have trouble reading private messages on the forum. I can also be contacted at [email protected]

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          • #20
            I have observed this issue keenly in my father. He is 83 and was a doctor who became a lawyer in his late forties. He cultivated few interests outside of his professional life. He retired at age 67, for reasons that are hard to fathom, but basically amount to “that seemed like around the time people tended to retire.”

            The result was unfortunate. He was bored and unhappy for the next decade, remembering fondly the active and productive years of his career. It took him until around 80 to have developed a new life that he enjoyed, although honestly I believe he was far happier when he was working. Interestingly, even though he practiced exclusively law for the last 15 years of his career, it is his identity as a physician that he retains most strongly.

            I am very different. I have a million things I love to do, interests I pursue, and clear ideas about how I want to spend my time when I am no longer working. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to feel comfortable financially retiring until I’m in my mid-sixties or even 67 (I’m 59). But it seems clear to me that a happy retirement begins long before work stops. If you don’t have a sense of what you enjoy, how you will maintain social contacts, what your life will be about, you may want to work on that ahead of time...
            My Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFF...MwBiAAKd5N8qPg

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            • #21




              I’ve always been partly amused/partly saddened by the retired surgeons who still frequent the surgeons’ lounge to read the paper or eat lunch, or seemingly just hang out.
              Click to expand...


              I have seen this at one of my hospitals. Two retired general surgeons and an urologist have continued to come to the Doctor's dining room 5+ years post retirement. All they do is eat lunch and banter with the current surgeons. Usually it is politics or college football. I have not seen internists or medical sub specialists there. Perhaps their life was not tied so much to the hospital like a surgeon.

              One former vascular surgeon was so bored in retirement that he came out of it to become almost like an internist, doing H/P and office follow up for neurosurgeons. Why did he choose that is a mystery to me.

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              • #22
                Maybe those guys are just different. Something was probably not bad in choosing people so laser focused on only one thing. I mean look at this group, we all have tons of interests and cant imagine being bored not doing clinical work. I know of several kinds of things I'd love to learn more in depth, just for myself. Places to go, people to visit, and all kinds of interesting things.

                This is medical schools fault for starting to go after 'well-rounded' individuals with hobbies, etc...you get what you asked for sometimes.

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                • #23






                  I’m a 58 yo boomer, and I have never met these noble individuals.




                  Everything was on paper when I left medicine around the turn of the century, and everything was electronic when I returned. It’s a great benefit. Multiple physicians can use the chart at the same time (no waiting), and we can access everything from home. I don’t have to go down to radiology to see a film now. There are a few minor annoyances with order entry, but overall e-records beat paper records from my point of view. I don’t understand why electronic systems are so unpopular (except that it would be a great hassle and expense to install in a small private practice).
                  Click to expand...


                  Agree with both of these.

                  As I've said in other forums the EMR-bashing among older docs is a bunch of hogwash. We do everything else in our lives online, it's 2017, medicine is going to be computerized. I know several older docs who complain incessantly about the clunky, difficult EMR and then spend hours a day playing on their iPhones. The rare times we have to use paper charts now (e.g. computer downtimes) it's amazing that people didn't revolt against this system well before it went away. I do a medicolegal case discussion for my residents involving a torsion case on paper charts and it's absolutely incredible how little of the chart is even legible.

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                  • #24
                    "older" doctors ****************************** about EMRs because most people hate change.  I have paper office charts because of money.  It would be costly to do this at 60 with no chance of recouping the cost.  If I intended to practice 20 more years I would of already done it.

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                    • #25
                      I graduated med school in 2010.  I didn't mind the old EMR we have and would rather use it than paper charts.  CPRS at the VA was great.  The one implemented this year is horrendous.  Littered with bugs, unsafe (has inaccurate displays of current meds), intrusive, cumbersome, and doesn't handle free text orders.  And often when I put orders in they disappear into some unknown rabbit hole, or I can see them but the nurses can't.  The click-box documentation increases liability.  And administration uses it to shovel more extraneous documentation requirements on us for the sake of data mining.

                      In theory EMR is great; in practice it absolutely can exacerbate burnout.
                      I sometimes have trouble reading private messages on the forum. I can also be contacted at [email protected]

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                      • #26
                        My father is 70 and a practicing FP/psychiatrist.  He works more hours than most people on this forum and probably as many hours as most people in training.  He works because it's his purpose -- it's what he wants to do with his time.

                        He's tried to go part-time by cutting clinic hours, and has always ended up picking up other part-time jobs doing inpatient work almost immediately and ended up working as many or more hours.

                        A year ago he took a part-time job driving a few hours to a prison to do psychiatry there.  He was literally spending a couple days living in some small town and staying in a motel -- he was working so hard at home with clinic and inpatient work he actually thought this would be an easier job than his regular job.  We tried to talk him out of it since it was a crazy idea, but didn't work.

                        He didn't stay long in that job for a few reasons (including longer hours than he expected), but I think the inability to bring in his iPhone into the prison to entertain himself was the dealbreaker.   :lol:

                         
                        An alt-brown look at medicine, money, faith, & family
                        www.RogueDadMD.com

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                        • #27









                          I’m a 58 yo boomer, and I have never met these noble individuals.




                          Everything was on paper when I left medicine around the turn of the century, and everything was electronic when I returned. It’s a great benefit. Multiple physicians can use the chart at the same time (no waiting), and we can access everything from home. I don’t have to go down to radiology to see a film now. There are a few minor annoyances with order entry, but overall e-records beat paper records from my point of view. I don’t understand why electronic systems are so unpopular (except that it would be a great hassle and expense to install in a small private practice).
                          Click to expand…


                          Agree with both of these.

                          As I’ve said in other forums the EMR-bashing among older docs is a bunch of hogwash. We do everything else in our lives online, it’s 2017, medicine is going to be computerized. I know several older docs who complain incessantly about the clunky, difficult EMR and then spend hours a day playing on their iPhones. The rare times we have to use paper charts now (e.g. computer downtimes) it’s amazing that people didn’t revolt against this system well before it went away. I do a medicolegal case discussion for my residents involving a torsion case on paper charts and it’s absolutely incredible how little of the chart is even legible.
                          Click to expand...


                          As an older (54 YO) doc in private practice group that has to this point spent/borrowed $1.1mil on EMR, I don't think that that anyone would argue against the increased convenience of extracting information from electronic medical records. The primary issue in our case is the inefficiency of Data Input. Older doc's often never took typing in the past and Dragon Speak still is somewhat clunky. EMR has actually decreased the number of patients our physicians are able to see each clinic, cutting into revenues, and adding significantly to our expenses. It is a simple math problem from a financial standpoint.

                          Working harder and making less is the stark reality that many physicians are facing, both young and old, and some, both young and old, will bow out, as this forum attests.

                          As an aside, IMO, the government missed an incredible opportunity to increase efficiency and cut cost in healthcare when they failed to mandate that these systems be able to communicate with each other from the very beginning. Much of the data would have needed to be entered only once, especially from the patient's perspective. Asking an 82 year old with mild dementia to list all of their medications every time she sees a new doc is utterly ridiculous.

                           

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                          • #28
                            I really like our EMR, way better than paper charts. I hated looking around for charts and then trying to decipher illegible notes. I also lose much fewer pens now.

                            I have no desire to work 5 days a week ever again now that I work 4 days a week. I am liking my JOB less and less every year due to hospital admin, insurance companies, and less appreciative patients. I am employed so have no sense of ownership at all. I think I'm FI but want enough to basically live off dividends and interest....

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                            • #29
                              Ah, the famous "Why do some people..." question.  My kids used to always ask me these when they were growing up.  IDK why the guy you know keeps working.  I will trust your answer that it is not about money.  I would turn the question to you, Lithium, like I used to with my kids.  Why do you keep working at a job you have stated in past threads that you do not enjoy?  Make a change.  Consider part-time sooner than later.  We have only ever worked part-time and are in no hurry to change.  Look to the examples of WCI, POF, Hatton, and Vagabond's journeys to part-time medicine.  I have more trouble understanding when people push to work at a job they hate to reach a nebulous number before they change.  I do think generational issues play a role.

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                              • #30




                                Ah, the famous “Why do some people..” people question.  My kids used to always ask me these when they were growing up.  IDK why the guy you know keeps working.  I will trust your answer that it is not about money.  I would turn the question to you, Lithium, like I used to with my kids.  Why do you keep working at a job you have stated in past threads that you do not enjoy?  Make a change.  Consider part-time sooner than later.  We have only ever worked part-time and are in no hurry to change.  Look to the examples of WCI, POF, Hatton, and Vagabond’s journeys to part-time medicine.  I have more trouble understanding when people push to work at a job they hate to reach a nebulous number before they change.  I do think generational issues play a role.
                                Click to expand...


                                Valid points.  I asked my director if I could go part-time and he said no.  I asked if I could structure my full-time work in a way that would provide more variety and possibly less stress, and that wasn't accommodated either.  So I have the option of leaving and forfeiting substantial unvested benefits in favor of something I might like better, or sticking it out in order to accelerate financial independence.  I've crunched the numbers every possible way to try to find a mathematical justification to leave, since it's easier to make decisions that way than try to decide between options with different uncertain trade offs.  When the list of pros compared to the list of cons is pretty similar on both ends, it seems more rational to stay and more emotional and impulsive to leave the status quo.

                                I don't want to sound like a help-rejecting complainer.  I know life is about making tough decisions, and I'm at a point where more info/advice isn't likely to help.  Comes down to being ready to make a leap of faith.
                                I sometimes have trouble reading private messages on the forum. I can also be contacted at [email protected]

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