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What Do Surgeons Do After Retirement?

After years of exhausting study and practice, surgeons earn millions of dollars, including society’s respect and admiration. Many people imagine that surgeons retire early to splurge and enjoy the fruit of their high salaries.

But the reality is far from that for surgeons. Given that they spent their lives working, many retired surgeons suffer from boredom and sadness.

They may also find themselves lacking financially compared to what they had during their practice.

Because of this, surgeons do not just rely on their savings alone for their retirement; they also explore which careers and pastimes to take when they reach old age.

Furthermore, according to Medical Economics, many doctors (including surgeons) struggle from the looming retirement years because they want to stay working.

Since surgeons begin working later due to their years of study, they want to practice their careers in the years they have left. Surgery has also become a part of their identity, so retirees still want to maximize their knowledge and skills as much as they can.

What do surgeons do after retirement? This article will show you how surgeons may spend their retirement years.

Becoming an administrator

Since they spent decades in the surgical field, surgeons are familiar with the health care system and hospital administration. They might have already acquainted themselves with how the facility runs, giving them leadership and managerial skills.

As administrators, retired surgeons and doctors will direct the facility, its staff, and its regulations. They will also manage its finances, marketing, and clinical expertise.

But many hospitals nowadays require a degree in health care or business administration. The retired surgeon must have gained intensive knowledge during his career to be qualified.

Studying in a re-entry program

Although physicians and surgeons are on-demand, it is challenging for retired doctors to return to the workforce. If their license has already expired and they have been inactive in the field, they must undergo training and examinations. They must also keep up with the latest medical technologies and techniques.

Because of this, retired surgeons who want to return can enter a re-entry program, but it can be costly. Applicants can spend up to AU $30,000, which might be difficult for retirees.

Becoming a locum tenens doctor

Retired surgeons can work as substitute doctors if hospitals need them. This position lets them have a flexible work schedule at their own pace. Locum tenens doctors can refer to a staffing agency, but this position might require re-entry positions too.

Working as a consultant

Given their decades of knowledge and experience, retired surgeons can help their colleagues and medical institutions. As consultants, they can share their expertise in surgery and the health care industry.

Surgeons can also advise surgical tool manufacturers, medical publications, government agencies, and law firms. They can even help physicians fulfill basic tasks like performing patient consultation and monitoring. 

Editing and writing in medical publications

Retired surgeons who want to earn money and share their knowledge while staying at home will enjoy writing medical articles. If they have mastered grammar and syntax, they can even work as editors for medical publications.

With this task, they can share valuable information with the general public. Retired surgeons can also combat medical rumors and fake news that may victimize people.

Performing volunteer work

Surgeons may also spend their retirement years helping their fellow people. They can freely assist patients who cannot afford it.

Retirees in this medical field can either work in their local communities or join international organizations for missions in impoverished countries. This charity can allow former surgeons to explore the world and meet new cultures.

Former surgeons can also host seminars and training sessions for poor communities. In this setting, having an expired license while visiting other countries might not pose a problem because of less restrictive requirements.

Working as a telemedicine doctor

Retired surgeons may want to enjoy their free time in their homes while practicing their medical careers and assisting others. They may work in the field of telemedicine,  helping patients over the phone or the Internet.

Although telemedicine is a centuries-old medium, this field has become more relevant and mainstream during the pandemic. Quicker Internet connections also made this more effective now.

Instead of visiting a hospital or a clinic, patients can call physicians. In such sessions, retired surgeons who still work in this field can give medical advice, diagnose minor health issues, and prescribe non-controlled treatments.

Passing their knowledge as teachers

Retired surgeons can significantly contribute to the medical industry by training the next generation of doctors and surgeons.

They can teach undergraduate courses related to medicine, such as physiology and biology. If they are still certified, former surgeons can apply for tenure in universities and medical schools.

How should former surgeons spend their retirement years?

With their skills and extensive knowledge, surgeons can have the opportunity to work in different fields past their retirement. This article lists several careers that retired surgeons may find fulfilling and productive. What should they consider in deciding about this?

  1. What are their values and aspirations before they entered the surgical field and now that they had spent decades practicing it? The answer will determine their motivations in this career moving onwards.
  2. What are their learning goals? They might enjoy helping far-away communities and gain insights from first-hand experience there.
  3. Do they still want to work, and why? There are many reasons to continue working, like boredom, financial needs, or passion.
  4. What do they need to maintain their vigor? Surgeons focused on this career for decades. Perhaps they can no longer see themselves apart from performing surgeries and medical work.
  5. What schedule do they prefer? The retirement work options in this article are so diverse, and workload is one of their main differences.

According to CTSNet, a medical magazine for cardiothoracic surgeons, retirees from the field may find it painful to leave this profession that has defined their lives. Some former surgeons may endure the pain of loss—loss of purpose, routine, and status—all while their health declines.

If you are a retired surgeon in need of the same vigor while reading this, hopefully, this article will guide you to find a meaningful retirement.

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