TheNightsToCome wrote: ↑
Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:34 am
me112964 wrote: ↑
Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:43 am
looking to find out what retirement looks like for retired/retiring doctors today. Currently 53 and looking at options for the immediate and distant future. Locum tenen stories, early retirement, part time, consulting. Any stories appreciated.
At 34 I sold my critical care staffing business and took a year off prior to starting cardiology fellowship. During that year I learned to surf (Waikiki and Surfers Paradise), scuba dive (Grand Cayman and Oahu), and ski (Snowmass and Vail). I tried tandem hang gliding at Torrey Pines, and then chickened out of bungee jumping in New Zealand when I looked over the edge of the platform.
I went to London, Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Rome, Capri, Santorini, Auckland, Lake Taupo, Melbourne and Sydney. I bought my first desktop and learned how to use it. I tried to write a novel (never completed). I didn't cut my hair for 15 months. I worked out for about 2 hours per day, six days per week and enjoyed all the uninterrupted sleep that I needed. I spent a lot of time visiting family. It was a very good year, and with adequate funds, it could have been a very good life.
At 41 I left medicine because I was so burned out that I couldn't stand the thought of working one more day. I had no plan.
As before, I enjoyed the uninterrupted sleep and the markedly improved workouts. I started to feel like a human being again.
I played a lot of fetch with my German Shepherd, Bart, who was very happy with our new arrangement. He and I were best friends.
I spent long, leisurely days reading accounting and finance books at Barnes and Noble. (My idea of fun.
I got to know the other retired guys who also passed the time at the bookstore. One guy my age sold his chain of Papa John’s stores. Another older fellow had been a Division I basketball coach. We all grabbed Barron’s on Saturday mornings, me with a Venti Mocha Frappuccino. Life was good.
At first I jumped and became instantly tense every time a nearby beeper or phone alarmed (post-traumatic beeper syndrome), but that disorder gradually melted away.
I loved investing so I eventually decided to study for the CFA exams. About that time I began corresponding with an investor who wrote a regular column on his company’s website. He told me that I was his most astute reader and I noticed that his firm had openings for equity analysts and encouraged non-traditional applicants. I told the investor that I would apply and he invited me for an interview.
It was exciting to become an equity analyst. My colleagues were very bright and well-educated and they all loved investing. We had endless discussion/arguments conducted over the water-cooler, or more often, a group email chain (still have many of them recorded somewhere).
My supervisors encouraged me to take some vacation, but I had to laugh inside. The whole “job” was a vacation. Maybe it’s different for derm or path, but once you’ve been a busy solo practice cardiologist, “working” as an equity analyst is like lounging on a beach. I was doing essentially the same thing that I had been doing in the bookstore–but now a company paid me! I sat in a peaceful cubicle all day reading 10-Ks or working with spreadsheets with no interruptions, no beeper, no crashers, no codes, no nothing but glorious peace.
When Eliot Spitzer settled with the big banks he required independent analyst coverage for their clients. Our coverage universe tripled immediately and we were often working 7:30 am to 9:00 pm for about 6-9 months. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth among my colleagues, but these were such easy hours, nothing like the constant push of clinical work. I was stunned that anyone complained. As physicians we become numb to expanding workloads.
I probably should have stayed, but I was already through the CFA curriculum, so I enrolled at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business on the company dime and it was taking too long. I became more interested in school than work so I bolted and just paid full-freight on my own.
I had been managing accounts for friends and family for several years, so after graduation I moved back to my home town and opened a Registered Investment Advisor (but I didn't charge family members or solicit new business).
I was fit and happy and life was good. I thought things would continue that way for decades, but then I was struck with a serious illness.
I was misdiagnosed by a cardiologist and I knew he was less than stellar (although a very nice guy) simply by discussing a couple of clinical problems with him. I knew how to find a better cardiologist once I was out of hospital, and I knew how to direct my subsequent work-up. I think it’s likely that I would be dead now if not for my medical training.
I was suddenly worried about access to good health insurance and good healthcare going forward. I wanted to be back on the inside, and I had a renewed interest in everything medical. I earned over 800 hours of CME and scored in the top decile on my board re-certification exam. I obtained licenses in two states where I had practiced previously and returned to the practice of cardiology at 54, after 13 years away. I've been back for almost 4 years now.
Things are much better than before, but I still work about 60-65 hours per week with one weekend and 10 nights of call per month. Because we have hospitalists now, the call is not as heavy as it was. (Thank you, dear hospitalists.) Also, I'm an employee now, so I don't have to run the business. That helps, too.
My contract is up in two years and I intend to negotiate less call and/or more PDO and/or fewer patients per day in clinic. I don't hate the practice of medicine, I just hate the life. I really enjoy the subject matter. I'd rather read the Journal of the American College of Cardiology than a 10-K, and I enjoy the work if the pace is such that I can take a breath between patients.
I burned out because of the push of racing to keep up all day every day, and then being called all night. If I can arrange a more humane schedule with my employer, I plan to continue indefinitely.