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Who retired really early?

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  • Who retired really early?

    By retired, I don’t mean, “work 3 days per week.” I mean retired. Maybe 1 day here and there, or a week a month. But really stopped allowing work to be a significant part of your life, schedule, and identity.

    I am 44. I keep thinking of ways to cut back (from full time which is 4 days per week plus 1 weekend per month) to part time (2 or 3 days per week plus 1 weekend per month). I’d even consider one 7 day week per month = half time. We can afford to do either of these things now.

    But my job keeps thinking of ways for this not to happen. Like my colleague who resigned 2 weeks ago, leaving us short-handed, again. Or this strong encouragement to pick up a regional or system admin position (I definitely don’t want the latter. I’d be open to the former for a finite period of time in exchange for the ability to work from home one day per week and the guarantee I could go to 3 days per week after, say, 2 years). Eh, there’s always something.

    I feel a strong loyalty to my employer. Reading the threads here, I may be the only one. But I’ve been here almost fifteen years and it’s the only job I’ve had. They’re good people. Have honored commitments. Try their best to make the right decision. Offer good pay and good benefits and are extraordinarily important in their small to medium sized communities. And it’s hard to recruit where I work. I take care of a lot of fragile people and it would be hard to find another doc to come in and pick up the pieces. I have professional relationships throughout the community. I am the face of my specialty for several counties (this is no brag about my clinical acumen, this is the result of being the only game in town for a long time). I’m a medium fish in a small pond if you know what I mean.

    I know all of this could go on forever but I wouldn’t have as hard a time saying goodbye in my mid 50s. In my mid 40s it feels... selfish.

    So loyalty and duty/obligation to patient and employer both.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    PoF is already down to 1 week a month, of course that's 0.6 time.

    I don't plan to quit practicing any time soon and I'm your age. But I have no qualms going to half time, mostly because I have a second job I'm doing 3/4 time right now that I enjoy just as much.
    Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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    • #3
      There is always going to be a need for your services...but everyone is also replaceable, some easier than others. It sounds like you are mostly in a good place with your job. Unless you are burned out or have something else compelling to do with your time, why not just keep doing it?

       

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      • #4
        I posted on another thread that I am retiring on 7/1 at 61.  I anticipate that when I announce this to patients it will be an emotionally traumatic process.  I assume by your screen name that you are a psychiatrist so your long term patients will implore you to stay.  I hear this from patients all the time.  Most of the docs who are retiring early are not primary care docs who get to know patients over many years.  It is harder for us.  All this being said it is your life.  Someone will replace you just like someone will replace me.

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        • #5
          I can't imagine the added work load or asking you to take on jobs you don't want are pull factors keeping you away from retirement.  If anything, they sound like they would be the opposite.  If you feel a sense of duty to your patients and hospital and are getting enjoyment from the work then clearly these are pull factors keeping you away from retirement.  On the flip side, the means to retire now is more of a logistical check in the box, not a push factor away from work per se.  If you have legitimate interests in not working so that you can explore other things in life I think those would be the push factors.  The decision to retire should be selfish - it's YOUR life.  There is nothing wrong with that.  None of us are getting any younger.  If you want to help with the transition logistics and want to be helpful to your employer why not give them advanced notice about your plans and agree to help with the transition of care with a new recruit who you could help screen?

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          • #6
            Here's a quote I read in a "doctor book" a long time ago: "If you think you're so important, check your appointment calendar 2 weeks after you're dead".

            Don't fool yourself.  You are replaceable, both to your colleagues and to your patients.   They will replace you and within a year they will have trouble remembering your name, and you theirs.

            Do what's right for you.  You worked there 15 years and did a good job, for which they pay you.  The balance sheet is cleared. Give 2 weeks, or 4 weeks, or 1 year notice if you wish.  You don't owe them more than that.   If a group, or hospital, or HMO, or university needed to cut payroll in order to survive, you would be gone in an instant.

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            • #7




              Here’s a quote I read in a “doctor book” a long time ago: “If you think you’re so important, check your appointment calendar 2 weeks after you’re dead”.

              Don’t fool yourself.  You are replaceable, both to your colleagues and to your patients.   They will replace you and within a year they will have trouble remembering your name, and you theirs.

              Do what’s right for you.  You worked there 15 years and did a good job, for which they pay you.  The balance sheet is cleared. Give 2 weeks, or 4 weeks, or 1 year notice if you wish.  You don’t owe them more than that.   If a group, or hospital, or HMO, or university needed to cut payroll in order to survive, you would be gone in an instant.
              Click to expand...


              Wow, I could have written this passage. For some reason I have always been in tune with this, people come and go, even the fancy respected ones. They leave, retire, there is a nice party and by Monday we have forgotten how amazing they were and it doesnt matter and everything goes on. Same thing about missing a call and the hospital 'struggling' to replace you I was trying to convey on a different thread, we (and systems use it against us) definitely put too much into the one time necessity and chaos that might ensue if you miss a shift. It wont.

              The corollary to this I've always held about people telling you what to do in your career also applies. Unless theyre paying your bills, they dont really have any say. Oh, you wish for me to take this academic position at 1/2 the pay and 3x the work (accurate in my field)? Well, are you going to foot the difference? Then bugger off. Its your life, I dont tell people what they should have for dinner, much less more important things.

               

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              • #8
                i am August 2019. Completely. I will be 49 years old then.

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                • #9
                  Alexx,

                  What you say is probably true in a big city. Places like Los Angeles, Denver, or Seattle have a plethora of doctors in training and doctors in private practice and doctors who want to move there.

                  Those of you working in rural or semirural communities may feel differently. There have not been any physicians in my field in private practice in my community (which encompasses parts of seven counties) for more than a decade. We already turn away patients for lack of space to see them. Our county has the highest rate of opioid use, teen pregnancy, and suicide in the state. I’m not being grandiose when I say my services will be hard to replace: we’ve had two open positions out of six in my group for four years and in fifteen years have only been fully staffed for 18 months. We’ve had one candidate in the last three years, who didn’t take the job. And when my colleague leaves in 3 months, his services will be hard to replace, too. It is what keeps me up at night and in part what prompted my post.

                  My personal struggle is retiring early, after fifteen years of practice, as opposed to retiring at all, after 25 or 35 years of practice. The latter is ‘normal’. The former Feels like it requires justification.

                  I do have something I want to retire to - something pulling me. If I could work what I do now with an additional week off per month, I would be very happy. I’m still figuring out how to make that happen.

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                  • #10
                    I've seen my employer outsource the answering service, get rid of human transcriptionists, outsource the billing department, and cut the pharmacists' hours in the last year.  Not sure if MD's are next, but no reason to think we're immune from it.  Maybe there are others that actually do feel some loyalty to their employees, but that can change in a minute if you get the wrong CEO.  If you were evaluating this job as a new option, is it the one you'd pick?

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                    • #11
                      We’re all replaceable. If not than that probably means you’re getting underpaid

                      But good luck in your decision- benefits obviously to both approaches

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                      • #12
                        it's a very interesting question to me as well.

                        Urgency to going part time may depend on where you are starting from.  It may be affected by thresholds for benefits offered by employers.

                        I also feel some loyalty to the employer, more loyalty to the patients and the community.  if you recall the threads about whether there is some societal obligation to work, I'm on the extreme end of feeling that there is.  whether that is full time or part time (however part time is defined) is certainly something people will determine for themselves.  we've never had anyone part time in my specialty at my local hospital, so when the time comes-- either they change, I retire, or I eventually transition to locums.

                        I have no doubt that I'm replaceable.  The work will be done by someone else.  I honestly don't know if that someone will be 'better' than me.  they might offer technical expertise that I do not.  they might be nicer.   they may be more of a team player.  I don't know what the organization would look for.  I don't even know how good they are at attracting the values they want.  for sure there are a bunch of patients who don't think I'm easily replaceable.  replaceable, but not easily.  we are not simple commodities.

                        again, those with enough gray hairs, I think are trying to determine what to do next?

                        what is meaningful in their lives.  what will help them spend their time in the next phase in a fulfilling way?  there were a lot of retired people on jury duty that seemed excited to have something to do. 

                        I have no idea just yet, and I still enjoy the work, so plugging along. 

                         

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                        • #13
                          Fair points.  I have always been in a big city environment.

                          Nonetheless, you should look out for yourself first.  Whether you retire after 15 years or after 25, you will still have to leave at some point.  It might as well be now, when you want to.   Either way, they will have to replace you.

                          If you miss it, you can always go back to work.   If you wait until 65 or 70, and find you like retirement, you won't be able to get those 10 or 15 years back.

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                          • #14




                            for sure there are a bunch of patients who don’t think I’m easily replaceable.  replaceable, but not easily.  we are not simple commodities.

                            again, those with enough gray hairs, I think are trying to determine what to do next?


                            This is the situation I am running into as well.  I have patients that have been seeing me for 20-25 years.  My community is underserved in primary care, and it's just going to get worse whether I stay or not, but my leaving will make things much worse at least for the short run.  I had that conversation with my wife a couple weeks ago - what is my responsibility to my patients and society?  It's easy to say just walk away but it's not really that easy.

                             

                            Of course the things that make me want to retire are mostly the same things that makes primary care unattractive to many new doctors.  Feels like we're caught in a downward spiral.

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                            • #15


                              My personal struggle is retiring early, after fifteen years of practice, as opposed to retiring at all, after 25 or 35 years of practice. The latter is ‘normal’. The former Feels like it requires justification.
                              Click to expand...


                              I am younger than you but in a similar sort of community.  I do not feel any particular loyalty to the hospital, but similarly I would be very difficult to replace.  Is that a reason to keep working?  Not so sure.   I don't see any particular difference between retiring at 45, 55, or 65 (or higher) in terms of feeling guilty.  Assuming you were healthy why would the age have any relevance, aside from being "normal retirement age?" Perhaps you should talk to your analyst 

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