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On Being a Doctor |

On Retirement

Robert H. Moser, MD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

Chama, NM 87520

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(2):159-161. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-127-2-199707150-00013
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Retirement is defined as “to withdraw from business or public life so as to live at leisure on one's income, savings or pension.” This strikes me as terribly parched and resonating with doom, a dreary prescription for early demise. Yet there may be some truth in it. I am a veteran observer of unsuccessful retirements. I remember a tough, vigorous, 62-year-old four-star general who had commanded a corps in combat in Korea and an army in peacetime, each with distinction. I had the pleasure of conducting his physical examination for retirement. He had minimal stiffness and discomfort from mild osteoarthritis and moderate systolic hypertension but was otherwise in splendid physical condition. He could not wait to hang it up and devote his life to golf, hunting, fishing, and reading all the great books he had never had time for. Well, you know the story. After 6 months he was bored unto despair, and at 12 months was unrelentingly depressed. Within 2 years he was dead. The plot is all too familiar. And it is this plot that prompts me to offer a few simple insights that may be helpful, especially to young physicians early in their careers. Write them off as an old man's platitudes if you wish, but I believe that it is never premature to begin planning your retirement. And in these times especially, retirement may come sooner than you think.





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