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Time off/burnout and the slippery slope

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  • Time off/burnout and the slippery slope

    So, I am writing from my office on a Sat. about to begin a busy office day. I'm mid 50's, and we cover every 5th Sat. in the office plus the regular work week. A few years ago I starting taking a half day off and then it grew to two half days a week. That never worked well because a half day never really ended at the half mark and I wouldn't leave until 3pm. So, then I changed it to a full day off in the middle of the week,this is much better and a welcome break. Now a couple of years have gone by and I am tired of these Saturday hours, and I am tired of waking up in the dark for 7:30 am surgery or 8am office hours. I can see the pattern here, next it will be 9 am starts, then 3 days a week, then...

    It all seems logical but the slope is very slippery for me as I can see myself working down to almost a part time Doc. Is this Ok, is this a normal progression for a Doc in his mid 50's? Am I just getting soft and tired, or because I haven't an actual vacation in 6 months. The office work ethic is hard core stoicism in the classic surgical subspecialty sense with economic penalties surrounding every move. Kind of a pain in the a*& and I am now seriously considering bailing on the whole thing in 3-4 years and doing something else or just accepting the economic consequences of being a part time Doc.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  • #2
    Totally normal. Be thankful you are in a financial position to enjoy the slide down. It does take some mental adjustment to embrace it. But it sounds like you are on the way. Have a great day!

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    • #3
      The average goal for clients who set an early retirement/pt work date is 55 (some earlier), if that helps. Once we determine the goal, then part of our job is to help them figure out if that is affordable. Part 1 is to step back from the day-to-day and figure out your goal then Part 2 is to determine if it is reasonable and reachable - or even if you can achieve it earlier.
      Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory and ignorant advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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      • #4
        You sound like me.  I started at about 50 leaving earlier in the afternoon.  I always took a full day off.  Then I took another afternoon off.  Then I stopped working on the Monday after weekend call.  At 56 I quit OB entirely and went to 3 days/week GYN.  I am completely retiring at 61 in 3 months. If you are FI then why not slow down?  I think it helps to ease into retirement.  Hopefully there will be less of an ego hit by doing it this way.

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        • #5
          i wish i had the option.  i find it hard to keep up with all the nonclinical bs i have to do, and i'd really like some more time to catch up.

          that's sad, because it's not really taking time off in some ways.  it's just acknowledging i'm not able to trim any more fat from the bone.

          since work won't let me cut back, i did the next best thing.  i decided to hire a younger stronger partner.



           

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          • #6
            What good is hard core stoicism if you're unhappy? Take time to think through any major decision and make sure you're prepared financially, but I don't think there any universally "correct" age to make a schedule change to suit you.

            Just to put things in perspective, there are a lot of other physicians (myself included) who consider part time work in their 30s or 40s

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            • #7
              Perfectly normal IMO.  You must be quite the trooper to have made it to your 50's without feeling the need to cut back until now.  This is precisely why it's important to live below your means from day one and save aggressively.  Having the ability to cut back or quit when you get tired/burnt out is a luxury that many docs can't afford.  Good for you!

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              • #8
                I used to work 5 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. And come every Sat morning to complete the charts and come on Sunday PM to get the office ready for Monday. Plus time and energy to buy and stock my solo office and do the financials.

                I got exhausted and due to combination of factors ( vague abdominal pains, child's early learning issues, colleague having stroke just before retirement) my eyes opened up. I started with half day Fridays which really did not help and so quit seeing patients Fridays and used it to complete charts. Sat and 1/2 Sundays were free. Then I enrolled in YMCA exercise classes and took Mon and Thu afternoons off from 2 PM. I am not with YMCA any more but the time off still stands. I also try and get off early on Wed. Tuesday is my only full working day. I now work 20 or so hours a week. I end up making less than many derm NP that the other thread talked about. when the median income for my specialty is three times as much. But luckily those 12 hour days for a few years along with good investments bring in half my total annual income.

                If you have FI, go ahead and cut back hours. You will enjoy it. I am much happier and healthier than before I started cutting back.

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                • #9
                  I'm six months into my part-time schedule, and I am not excited about the prospects of returning to full-time, which will likely happen for four months next winter due to a military obligation of a partner.

                  If you're unhappy with the work you're doing, and you don't need or want the money you're earning by doing said work, do it less (or not at all). Life is short.

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                  • #10
                    Nothing wrong with working less if that makes you happy. I’m 38 and pay my partners to work weekends for me so I can do other things I enjoy.

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                    • #11
                      1. Yes. It is OK.

                      2. Who cares if it is normal. It is your life and you owe it to yourself to shape it to create the job that will make you happy. If that is part-time so be it. Creating career longevity through cutting back or eliminating the things you dislike most about your job may be the best course long-term.

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                      • #12




                        You sound like me.  I started at about 50 leaving earlier in the afternoon.  I always took a full day off.  Then I took another afternoon off.  Then I stopped working on the Monday after weekend call.  At 56 I quit OB entirely and went to 3 days/week GYN.  I am completely retiring at 61 in 3 months. If you are FI then why not slow down?  I think it helps to ease into retirement.  Hopefully there will be less of an ego hit by doing it this way.
                        Click to expand...


                        I could slow down from a financial perspective it's really more of the practice mentality and the ego hit that I can't keep up. Silly after all these years and thousands of operations to feel that way I know...




                        I used to work 5 days a week, 10-12 hours a day. And come every Sat morning to complete the charts and come on Sunday PM to get the office ready for Monday. Plus time and energy to buy and stock my solo office and do the financials.

                        I got exhausted and due to combination of factors ( vague abdominal pains, child’s early learning issues, colleague having stroke just before retirement) my eyes opened up. I started with half day Fridays which really did not help and so quit seeing patients Fridays and used it to complete charts. Sat and 1/2 Sundays were free. Then I enrolled in YMCA exercise classes and took Mon and Thu afternoons off from 2 PM. I am not with YMCA any more but the time off still stands. I also try and get off early on Wed. Tuesday is my only full working day. I now work 20 or so hours a week. I end up making less than many derm NP that the other thread talked about. when the median income for my specialty is three times as much. But luckily those 12 hour days for a few years along with good investments bring in half my total annual income.

                        If you have FI, go ahead and cut back hours. You will enjoy it. I am much happier and healthier than before I started cutting back.
                        Click to expand...


                        Thanks Kamban...I appreciate the input.




                        1. Yes. It is OK.

                        2. Who cares if it is normal. It is your life and you owe it to yourself to shape it to create the job that will make you happy. If that is part-time so be it. Creating career longevity through cutting back or eliminating the things you dislike most about your job may be the best course long-term.
                        Click to expand...


                        Great answer!

                        Thank you all, sometimes I just need to check in with "the team". Now back to my EHR...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I cut out IR and went to part time at age 52, precisely due to burnout. I am very content with my work schedule and do/make/have enough. If you can, and have the inkling, why not keep trimming.

                          “It’s your life.” - This should be the theme, motto or subtext of this forum. It’s the opposite of the wishes of our overlords, and for that reason, it bears repeating.

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                          • #14
                            One of the biggest things that stood out to me in the original post was no real vacation in 6 months. That’s ridiculous. I’m also in a surgical sub-specialty and can’t imagine going that long without time off. I’m off this week, in fact, after not having any time off since Christmas and even that 3 months seems too long.

                            My employee job gives me 6 weeks of “paid” vacation in a year and that seems like not enough at times with how hard I go between clinic, OR, and call. In reality, I definitely take a pay cut to go on vacation since my incentive production grinds to a halt while I’m gone, and only my base salary is paid. But to me it’s worth it. I haven’t run all the numbers exactly, but if I kept up my RVU production and didn’t go on vacation ever I could probably make an extra $70,000 per year. But once you get north of $500k (I’m assuming you make well north of that), the value of that extra money goes way down in my opinion. Better off to work 25 years (or more) at 90-100% than 18 years at 125% when you quit because you’re totally burned out.

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                            • #15
                              You're soft? I haven't worked Mondays since my second year of residency! Last year I started leaving early on Wednesday. Yesterday I was done at 3 pm on a Friday. Next year I'm dropping admin and another half day per week. And I'm a shrink for Pete's sake!

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