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What Keeps Late-Career Physicians Engaged

By Debra Shute  
   August 17, 2017

"We work with many physicians who work as locum tenens specifically so that they can be more in control of their schedule and the amount of time they're committing."

To keep permanent physicians of any age engaged, she encourages conversations about work hour expectations and time off upfront.

They want to interact.

The loss of the social dynamic of the work environment was the leading retirement concern for respondents, followed by loss of purpose, boredom, loneliness, or depression.

Additionally, "enjoyment of the social aspects of working" was among the top three reasons given for wanting to practice medicine after age 65.

They're confident.

Most (91%) of respondents said they can still provide useful services to their patients and the community and 89% said they can still be competitive in the healthcare field.

The CompHealth survey did not ask physicians' opinions about age-based competency testing, for which the American Medical Association called for guidelines in 2015. The AMA currently has a task force working on possible solutions.

They like working.

"Not having to work anymore" neared the bottom of the list of favorable aspects of retirement, at 32%, while 76% said they were most looking forward to traveling more.

Moreover, "enjoyment of the practice of medicine" was the top reason given for practicing beyond age 65.

"When physicians are moving into that retirement phase, overwhelmingly what we hear is that they're not working in that late career phase for compensation. They're doing it because they enjoy practicing medicine and helping people," Grabl says.

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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