Monday, June 4, 2012

Aging Physicians Put Off Retirement

Charleta Guillory, MD
"I'm not thinking at all that I'm going to stop [practicing medicine]," said Charleta Guillory, MD, 63, when asked about her retirement plans. “I plan to practice until I can't physically or mentally practice anymore. With every fiber of my being, I feel I can give back and help someone every day.”

Dr. Guillory, associate professor of pediatrics in the Texas Children's Hospital Newborn Center in Houston and a member of the Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Maternal and Perinatal Health, still works 80 hours a week. She represents one of a growing number of physicians remaining in the medical field as they approach and even surpass the typical retirement age of 65, reports Texas Medicine magazine.

Michael Speer, MD
TMA President Michael Speer, MD, who turns 70 this year, works similar hours at the same newborn intensive care unit as Dr. Guillory. He says he has no plans to slow down but may "partially retire" in three years. "I like what I do. I like caring for babies, being involved in organizational leadership, teaching, and keeping up with the practice of medicine. Also, in 2008, when the economy went south, I, like many Americans, couldn't retire," he said.

The economic recession disrupted retirement plans for many of the more than 230,000 physicians older than 55 practicing in the United States, according to Jeff Goldsmith, PhD, associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia. If the U.S. economy rebounds, Dr. Goldsmith predicts the U.S. health care system will witness a massive withdrawal of physicians from active practice, as many as 100,000 in the next five years. The potential exodus would occur simultaneously with 36 million baby boomers entering the Medicare program and perhaps 30 million more Americans receiving new health care benefits through health system reform if it survives legal challenges.

Older physicians haven't retired in droves yet, but Drs. Speer and Guillory worry their eventual departure will affect primary care negatively and says the specialty is vulnerable. Pediatrics, internal medicine, and family medicine are ailing because fewer medical graduates are choosing careers in these specialties.

"The U.S. child population growth outpaces the demand for board-certified pediatricians. Combined with the aging pediatrician's inability to pass the baton to the next generation, a crisis is created," said Dr. Guillory.

But until they do retire, aging physicians continue to care for their patients.

1 comment :

  1. "The U.S. child population growth outpaces the demand for board-certified pediatricians. Combined with the aging pediatrician's inability to pass the baton to the next generation, a crisis is created," said Dr. Guillory.financial advisor lexington sc

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