Retirement is a huge challenge for engaged physicians as they now may have to cope with the crisis of identity, lack of fulfillment, and reduced social interactions. From the perspective of their institution, with a retired physician, a wealth of knowledge, experience, wisdom, and expertise is gone. Does it have to be this way?
An interesting recent study published in Academic Medicine reports on the results of a novel educational program at McGill University providing retired physicians with renewed educational roles within a university-associated pediatric department. The study sought to explore the retired physicians’ experiences in this new intergenerational program, including their motivations to reengage as educators after retirement.
The study identified four main themes related to the retiring physicians: a challenging shift to retirement, a desire for reengagement after retirement, role dissonance, and gaining by giving. In principle, the retired physicians were motivated to engage as educators. Although they did experience some discomfort in their new nonclinical roles, most of them felt fulfilled due to intellectual stimulation, social connectedness, and a sense of purpose. The authors conclude that retired physicians’ motivations to reengage academically highlight the importance of supporting physicians during the transition to retirement and establishing formal programs to engage retired physicians as educators.
Given that middle-career and senior physicians are often overwhelmed with administrative and clinical duties, engaging retired physicians might be helpful to complement medical education and support of young physicians in their hospitals.