Shy and retiring

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 31 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:279
  1. Barbara M Southcott, retired consultant oncologist
  1. Chalmington, Dorset

    Talk to any colleagues in the medical profession of a certain age, and, sooner or later, the conversation will turn to retirement. Everyone has looked up the pension tables thoughtfully sent out by the NHS to clinicians who reach the half century mark, and we each privately estimate when the fallout from stress, political interference, arguments with the chief executive, lack of parking space, etc, will outweigh the financial pressures of school and university fees, mortgage repayments, expensive habits, etc, and take action accordingly.

    “Ah, retirement,” we all say to ourselves, with a vision of the Nirvana that is to come. Well, I crossed over a few months ago—all carefully planned and with no sudden rush to the finishing line:

    “How is retirement?” my colleagues ask when I see them on forays back into hospital to deal with the letters that still keep coming in.

    “It's… um, well, er. I don't know really.”

    “Don't know?” they echo. What can I mean? Has the break in routine made me go soft in the …

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