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News BMJ Investigation

Doctors’ early retirement has trebled since 2008

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1594 (Published 24 June 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1594

Rapid Response:

DELAYING RETIREMENT MAY SAVE SOCIETY FROM TAKING CARE OF RETIREES

Dear Editor
As a middle-aged physician anesthesiologist [1], I sometimes wonder whether middle age is the right age for me to retire. However, then I observe that even the very-old or the oldest-old [2] have difficulty deciding for retirement in their so-called theoretic "fourth age" [3]. The bottom line is that forced or unforced retirement has the costs to the retirees and their societies [4-7]. Therefore, until the personal and societal costs of retiring can be proven to be more than the personal and societal costs of working, the physicians may continue to decide for retirement, sometimes very early and sometimes very late [8-10]. Once the society realizes the costs of having more retirees being higher than the costs of having more workers especially when the human longevity is expanding, the society will stop questioning the motives of very-old or oldest-old when they are NOT deciding to retire even in their so-called theoretic "fourth age". At least, I have stopped questioning their motives as now they are an inspiration to learn how to work further down the road as long as the personal and societal costs of someone’s working is not more than the personal and societal costs of someone’s retiring, especially in the post-pandemic era.

References
1. Will Medically Consulting Anesthesiologists Supersede Medically Supervising Anesthesiologists And Replace Medically Directing Anesthesiologists? https://www.webmedcentral.com/article_view/5727
2. Old Age: Sub-group definitions. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_age#Sub-group_definitions
3. Aging without agency: theorizing the fourth age. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20336545/
4. Working capacity of patients with Parkinson's disease – A systematic review. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1353802016300712
5. Doctors’ early retirement has tripled over the past 13 years. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210624/Doctorse28099-early-retiremen...
6. Time of loss of employment in Parkinson's disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16941456/
7. Early retirement and income loss in patients with early and advanced Parkinson's disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21919541/
8. List of centenarians (medical professionals). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_centenarians_(medical_professionals)
9. More doctors are practicing past age 70. Is that safe for patients? https://www.inquirer.com/philly/health/health-news/more-doctors-are-prac...
10. "Helping people, that's what it's all about": 101-year-old pediatrician pushes off retirement. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/andy-margileth-101-year-old-pediatrician/

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 August 2021
Deepak Gupta
Anesthesiologist
United States