Important Retirement Questions for Young Physicians

There are days when the pressures of work lead to lunch break daydreams of retirement. Even doctors have those days. Doctors do have an advantage over workers in many other sectors in that the income they enjoy is capable of setting them up for a very nice retirement. Getting from here to there can be a tough proposition, though.

Doctors are no different than other kinds of workers in that planning for retirement is essential to actually succeeding. To that end, young doctors should be giving some thought to retirement right from the start of that very first physician job.

To better illustrate the necessity of planning as early in one's career as possible, there is a list of important retirement questions young physicians should be asking themselves below. The answers to those questions provide the foundation for retirement planning.

  • When do I want to retire?

With the lowest paying specialties now offering average compensation packages in excess of $200,000 annually, even the least paid physicians can realistically retire in their late 40s or early 50s if they want to. Retiring early is a simple matter of proactive planning and proper financial management. So the first question young doctors should ask themselves is when they want to retire.

Retiring early means adopting a more modest lifestyle now so that excess income can be invested. If a young doctor intends to work up until normal retirement age, saving can be stretched out over many more years.

  • Do I want retirement to be immediate?

As retirement time approaches, doctors have to decide whether they want retirement to be gradual or immediate. Those who prefer an immediate retirement can simply close their practices or quit their jobs. Doctors who prefer a more gradual approach can continue working part-time by transitioning to locum tenens medicine.

  • Is there a chance I might be doing something else?

It is not unusual for doctors in clinical practice to retire early in order to move on to something else. Some move to nonclinical jobs while other switch careers entirely. Why is this important to ask while you are young? Because the doctor may need to undergo additional training before getting into something non-medical in nature. When that training occurs is entirely up to the individual.

  • What kind of lifestyle do I want to enjoy?

This question is all about financial planning. The doctor who wants to enjoy the same kind of lifestyle in retirement that he enjoys while working has to plan for it. He has to put enough money away to generate the kind of earnings that will be necessary to maintain that same lifestyle. This is where a certified financial planner comes in handy.

  • Where do I want to retire?

Where a doctor wants to retire is as important as when. A doctor who has no plans to leave the local area can set down deep roots, get involved in the community, and even invest in local business opportunities. The doctor who hopes to retire across the country or overseas has to look at things differently. For example, it might not be wise to invest a ton of money in a dream home if a doctor is planning to retire to a tropical paradise.

It can be difficult to give thought to retirement when a young doctor is just starting out. But as any retiree can tell you, the day when working ceases arrives a lot faster than most people realize. Thinking about retirement while you are young makes it easier to plan for that day well before it arrives.


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