“They are most energized when they do music; similarly, doctors went into medicine for the love of medicine, and they feel fulfilled, just like the musician,” Grossan says. “Social interaction is also a factor—I’ve seen too many examples of a person retiring and expiring.”
Joe Heider, president of Cirrus Wealth Management, has more than 30 years’ experience working in retirement, estate, tax and business planning with a focus on the financial concerns of medical professionals.
“When it comes to retirement and physicians, although a large percent of physicians do not want to retire, there is a substantial percent that do,” he says. “Just like other professions, the burnout happens over time due to stress and work hours as well as increasing government intrusion into their practice. The physicians that do not want to retire have found a way to focus on what they love to do, which is working and treating patients.”
Heider says physicians should establish a financial plan early on so that they get the freedom to pursue what they want to do upon reaching retirement age without having to worry so much about money issues.
While some older doctors might slow down in their later years, it doesn’t mean that their skills can’t be put to good use. After all, as Grossan notes, “We’ve seen a thing or two.”
“A huge amount of experience in the senior doctor can be of value,” he says. “The senior doctor comes from where you palpated muscles, listened to the heart, etc., and made pretty good diagnoses without $3,000 lab tests. We see today’s doctors who barely touch a patient and they can’t get to feel the abdomen because all those sensors cover it.”
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For example, from experience Grossan knows that when a patient says he has seen two other doctors for his ear pain, and they found nothing, that he can palpate his TMJ and diagnose his TMJ as the cause of his ear pain. Or if someone complains of an itching ear, he doesn’t need to do a culture. Experience tells him that they most likely have excessive removal of cerumen—dishpan hands of the ear canal—and needs to replace the “raw skin” with baby oil.