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What’s Next? 7 Opportunities for Retired Physicians

Jackson Physician Search
March 20, 2024

Are you among the 23% of active physicians at or above retirement age? According to 2023 U.S. Physician Workforce Data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), nearly 1 in 4 active physicians are 65 or older. Why are so many physicians working beyond the traditional retirement age? Healthcare leaders facing a worsening shortage are typically happy to keep older physicians on staff, but is it a sense of duty and obligation that keeps physicians working? Perhaps, but concerns about what comes next also come into play.

According to retirement research from Jackson Physician Search, 39% of physicians fear they will be bored in retirement, 44% fear losing their sense of purpose, and 53% fear they won’t be able to afford the same lifestyle in retirement. These fears may be why, in our 2023 physician retirement survey, only 12% of physicians said they plan to completely stop working after retirement. This means the other 88% are planning to do…what exactly? 

There are a variety of options for retired physicians who want to stay engaged, contribute, and supplement retirement income. Keep reading for 7 opportunities for retired physicians to stay active in the industry:

  1. Telemedicine:

Telemedicine saw rapid adoption during the pandemic, but many organizations have recognized its ongoing usefulness and continue to make it available for patients who are unable to be seen in the office. These organizations may be open to hiring a retired physician to see patients remotely part-time. Telemedicine jobs allow retired physicians to maintain a work-life balance while continuing to make a meaningful impact in healthcare.

  1. Locum Tenens:

Locum tenens jobs allow retired physicians to fill in for physicians of their same specialty on a short-term basis, often in rural or underserved areas. Physicians set parameters for location, duration, and practice setting to ensure assignments align with their preferences and schedules. This option allows the retired physician to keep skills sharp while supplementing income. It can also provide an opportunity to travel.

  1. Medical Consulting:

Retired physicians possess a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be invaluable to healthcare organizations, pharmaceutical companies, insurance firms, and startups. Many retired physicians transition into medical consulting roles, offering expertise in clinical practices, healthcare policy, research, and product development. Consulting allows retired physicians to leverage their knowledge in a flexible and intellectually stimulating environment, often on a part-time or project basis.

  1. Mentor or Teacher:

Retired physicians are ideal teachers and mentors for early-career physicians. Whether teaching classes at a medical school or leading a mentorship program with a healthcare organization, retired physicians willing to share their proficiency with the next generation will continue to impact patient care long after they hang up their white coats.

  1. Volunteer Work:

Many retired physicians are driven by a desire to give back to their communities and make a difference in the lives of others. Volunteer opportunities abound in healthcare settings such as free clinics, community health centers, disaster relief organizations, and international medical missions. Retired physicians can use their skills and experience to provide medical care to underserved populations, participate in health education initiatives, or mentor aspiring healthcare professionals.

  1. Medical Writing:

Retired physicians with strong communication skills can explore medical writing and editing opportunities. From academic journals and textbooks to healthcare websites and patient education materials, there is a demand for professionals who can translate complex medical concepts into accessible content. Retired physicians can contribute articles, research papers, book chapters, or edit medical manuscripts, providing valuable insights and ensuring accuracy and clarity in medical literature.

  1. Health Advocacy and Policy:

Retired physicians passionate about healthcare reform and advocacy can lend their voices to various organizations and initiatives. Whether advocating for patient rights, shaping healthcare policy, or promoting public health initiatives, retired physicians bring credibility and firsthand experience to the table. Opportunities for involvement include joining advocacy groups, serving on advisory boards, or participating in public speaking engagements and media interviews.

Retirement doesn’t have to mark the end of a physician’s professional journey. Instead, it opens the door to new opportunities for continued growth, contribution, and fulfillment. From telemedicine and locum tenens to medical consulting and volunteer work, retired physicians have many options to stay engaged in the healthcare industry. By leveraging their expertise, experience, and passion for medicine, retired physicians can make a lasting impact on patients, communities, and the healthcare system as a whole.

Are you a physician approaching retirement and wondering what’s next? The recruitment team at Jackson Physician Search is eager to learn more about you and help you find your next step. Reach out today.

Have more questions about physician retirement? 

Explore articles, whitepapers, and infographics designed to guide physicians through the many physician retirement considerations

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