Doctors Face Questions about Retirement

Physicians are the most highly-regarded professionals in the USA. They are highly-educated and their reputations depend on their abilities to care for the health and welfare of their patients.

For physicians, the reward can be a long and healthy career, one that they may be unwilling to relinquish to retirement as they get older.

An April 30 commentary by AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD., raised these questions in a personal way. Dr. Carmel, a pediatric neurosurgeon in Newark, N.J., is 75-years-old and still practising. He reasons that the aging population needs doctors who may be older. Senior physicians have a crucial role to fill within the American population that is facing a shortage of doctors; a population entering Medicare and coverage expanded to the currently uninsured. If anything, the need for more physicians will expand.

Dr. Carmel's father, a New York City doctor, retired at 65 and lived in Florida, but was lured back into part-time practice, doing rounds and receiving an excellent salary. Even after a colon cancer operation, he kept seeing patients, and didn't stop practicing until 80. He died at 83.

Dr. Carmel, president of the AMA, writes that they are extremely important questions. Better that physicians have the conversation first among themselves and determine viable next steps.