Seasoned healthcare providers who feel ready to slow things down professionally, but are not ready to hang up their hat entirely, have many options to continue to practice medicine after retirement age.
Maybe you want free time to pursue hobbies or visit family, but you know you have more to offer your patients and community. Perhaps you no longer want to commit to a full-time schedule, but there are career goals you haven’t yet accomplished. Whatever your reasons, you can reap the rewards of retirement, such as freedom and flexibility, without adding the potential burdens of stopping work completely, like boredom and financial concerns.
Here, we highlight four ways you can continue practicing medicine after retirement age without sacrificing your personal time and peace of mind.
1. Accept locum tenens opportunities
Temporary contracts offer the best of both worlds. By taking locum tenens jobs, you maintain control of your schedule. If you want to cut back on the number of hours you spend on duty, simply accept fewer contracts or accept only the assignments that meet your hour requirements.
Plus, locum tenens providers don’t have to deal with administrative or bureaucratic headaches. When you are working, you can focus exclusively on patient care. If finances are a concern, this practice alternative lets you maintain your lifestyle without sacrificing your freedom. Locum tenens often pays higher hourly rates than staff positions, which can provide the income potential you seek even while working fewer hours.
Last, but certainly not least, temporary contracts can expose you to new parts of the country, different patient populations, and varied practice settings, giving you the chance to share your wealth of knowledge with new providers and underserved communities.
2. Practice telemedicine
If you prefer to stay home while still being there for patients who may otherwise struggle to get the healthcare they need, telemedicine may be for you. Thanks to modern-day telecommunication technologies, this practice alternative is easier and more effective than ever, and has been found to offer comparable outcomes to in-person doctor visits for certain forms of care.
Successful telemedicine providers have good communication skills, work well independently, and can multitask efficiently. Of course your specialty will be a deciding factor. Surgeons, obviously, can’t practice telemedicine. But radiologists can offer provider-to-provider support; pathologists can provide diagnosis, education, and research from afar; cardiologists can look at electronically transmitted EKGs; and psychiatrists can speak to patients by phone or video chat.
If you pursue this line of work, be on the lookout for telemedicine providers that offer outstanding technical, nursing, and administrative support. And make sure you are in agreement with the volume of work you will be expected to handle.
3. Provide consultant services
A wide variety of businesses rely on medical experts to guide them — from insurance companies and law firms to medical device manufacturers and healthcare facilities. As a medical consultant, you can share the knowledge you’ve amassed over your career while maintaining a flexible schedule and earning a good income.
Pinpoint your specific areas of expertise and how they could be applied in the marketplace. Maybe you’ve led an impactful committee, ran your own successful practice, or acted as medical director. Offer your services to people you already know and dedicate yourself to networking wherever possible, at meetings and conferences, as well as on social media sites like Facebook groups and LinkedIn.
4. Take humanitarian medical missions
Are medical missions on your bucket list? If so, now may be the perfect time to leave administrative cares behind and practice medicine at its most fundamental level. You can make a difference, see the world, and perhaps learn more about yourself, all at the same time.
Countless patients in underprivileged countries all over the world are desperate for medical care. And missions are available through many organizations, from as brief as one week to as long as several months. Numerous reputable nonprofit organizations are dedicated to bringing healthcare volunteers to developing countries. In addition to treating patients, you can also make a difference by training local providers, through continuing education workshops, lectures, and demonstrations.
Whatever choice you make, rest assured that you can continue to practice medicine after retirement. In fact, you don’t need to make just one choice; you may prefer to dabble in several areas. For instance, four locum tenens physicians recently represented Weatherby Healthcare on a medical mission to Kenya, through the Making a Difference Foundation.