Best jobs for retired physicians: What are the options?

This article is sponsored by Careers by KevinMD.com.

Even the best of careers must end sometime. Sure, most doctors look forward to retirement, but not every retired physician wants to sit back collecting sea-shells for the rest of his or her life. Whether driven by financial constraints or by that persistent longing to change the world, any physician retiree should be able to find a job that fits his or her schedule and interests.

Returning to medical practice

Some retirees consider returning to the traditional physician workforce in their area, and there are several options for this ranging from full-fledged re-employment to telephone consultations. Full-fledged re-employment may require enrollment in educational credits and re-entry programs, depending on how long ago a retired physician’s license expired. These programs can cost between $10,000 and $20,000, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. For obvious reasons, this may be the most stressful, but perhaps the highest grossing option for retired physicians.

On the other end of the spectrum, retired physicians may consider performing phone consultations. Organizations like Teladoc provide email and phone consultations cheaper and faster than standard clinical visits, and participating doctors don’t have to deal with the headache of filing insurance claims — even though they can still write prescriptions for many non-controlled medications.

Retired doctors may also enjoy consulting for legal firms seeking expert testimony, or for health care facilities who would like physician input on facility or managerial changes without taxing their active doctors. Some retired doctors also consider becoming locum tenens physicians, which essentially means they work as substitute doctors on call. This exposes retired physicians to numerous different environments and situations, with less of a work-load than full-fledged re-entry, but it does require flexibility. Doctors may call out at strange times, and clients will expect the locum tenens physician to step in regardless. All of these options will require some form of license maintenance or other coursework.

Non-traditional/non-practice options

Physician experience also prepares a retired doctor for a number of other employment options that don’t involve practicing medicine. Many doctors use their wealth of experience to become health care administrators, and the Bureau of Labor Services reports a 20 percent projected increase in health care administrator employment — but the BLS also reports some health care facilities require a bachelor’s or licensure in health care administration management. Many doctors also decide to use their expertise to teach undergraduate biology, chemistry, or human biology courses. This is a decided plus for pre-med students, who would often rather take a science course taught by an expert in their planned career field.

One more interesting option for many retired doctors involves working from home as a writer. Doctors may dream of becoming celebrity TV consultants, and the sky’s the limit — but perhaps writing for a freelance agency or a local newspaper makes a more realistic jumping-off point. Dr. Leigh-Erin Connealy writes for Regnery Publishing, for example, and feels it gives her the opportunity to combine her daily practice with her viewpoints on wellness. Everyone rags on doctors for terrible handwriting, but luckily today’s highly inter-connected world usually requires a computer instead.

Finally, it’s possible, for retired physician job seekers to combine these options: a doctor could adventure/volunteer through medicine overseas while earning money doing phone consultations. A teaching doctor could easily write medical articles in his or her spare time, and University employment often offers great jumping points for research journals or web publications. Giving back is the best way to spend the evening or twilight of life, and thousands of underserved people around the world would love the chance to mine precious nuggets of healthcare from a retired physician’s experience. Retired physicians should seriously consider grants or volunteer work in both secular or religious settings — after all, we’re all only as old as we decide to be, and it’s never too late for anyone to pursue a new dream.

Find jobs at Careers by KevinMD.com. Search thousands of physician, PA, NP, and CRNA jobs now.

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