Hold it! Don't even think of it.
Don't even mention the word "retirement."
Most decisions to escape into the world of retirement are predicated on the anticipation that happiness and enjoyment in retirement life is a forgone conclusion.
Why would one retire at all, if we expected less?
But we surely can catch a realistic glimpse of the "other" side of retirement by surveying the large numbers of retired men and women, who had been energetic and productive executives, struggling to restart their careers.
Is the grass really greener over there?
You have invested a considerable amount of time and energy powering up to a successful and satisfying career. Don't let anyone talk you into retirement without considering the five positive factors of hanging in there.
- Physician executives are in demand.
Dedicated leaders within an expanding healthcare market are in short supply.
Medical care today is being managed predominantly by nonphysician executives who have no extensive insight into the real world of medical care. They learn by trial and error in a field that is extremely sensitive to patient demands and needs.
Who knows these better than a physician who has completed a tour of duty in the system? There are no substitutes.
About 25% of America's 620,000 practicing physicians may become involved in administrative positions in the next decade. Until then, who will carry the ball? Changes in the healthcare system--the development of satellite clinics, the expansion of hospitals into outpatient services, the advent of risk management programs and electronic medical records systems, and the growth of managed care organizations--are creating a dire need for physician executives now and in the future.
- The experience and knowledge of physician executives is unique.
The combined experience of the clinical practice of medicine and executive management strategies can neither be taught nor attained in traditional ways.
Those doctors who recognize their leadership abilities and skills--and choose to employ them to improve medical care--are unique.
- Leadership and dedication to the improvement of healthcare is inherent.
It takes physicians who have vision and inspiration to evolve into masterful artists who have the texture to effect the changes we need in our healthcare delivery system.
This special, innate quality is a blessing to be used to the fullest extent. Inside this person is a talent that must be expressed for the welfare of mankind.
- The power to improve the quality of medical care is in no better hands.
Politicians and government intrusion into healthcare, organized medicine and medical organizations have not in reality improved medical care. Who, then, can get the job done? This small army of enthusiastic physician executives--armed with their spirit of compassion, their compulsion to make things better and their strategic thinking to organize where it counts--can accomplish this.
- Physician executives are held in high esteem.
Any physician who has the unceasing urge to push forward beyond the realm of clinical practice of medicine, and who extends that career into another, is recognized, envied and revered.
The contributions they make to the advancements made in the healthcare system are commonly camouflaged by the business of the system, but they are never overlooked.
These heroes derive a sense of accomplishment from their work, which fuels their need to continue--and they should do exactly that.
About the columnist: Curtis Graham, M.D., has practiced medicine for 38 years, 30 of them in OB/GYN. He has served on the boards of directors of the Cooperative of American Physicians Mutual Protection Trust and Contra Costa Community College for Medical Assistants and as advisor to the California Medical Assistants Association.