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You Retired From Medicine- Now What? 

There is time for recovering.

 I’ll be honest, I feel like the first 2 months after retiring from my career in OB/GYN were about reclaiming my life. I got a full night’s sleep.  Actually, my nights were still broken up by 1 & 3 year old tears regularly (which I don’t mind so much when I know I don’t have to go to work in the morning).  However, I was having much more restful sleep as I was no longer on call or answering my pager/phone calls from the hospital throughout the night. I rediscovered exercise.  I haven’t exercised regularly in 8 years. Wow, what a difference going to the gym on a regular basis makes!  In summary, step 1 was take better care of myself.

 

Learning about something completely new.

I want to learn about finances.  This is important when you retire at 37.  You need to make sure the future is secure for yourself and your family.  Although I had reached financial independence at the time of decision to retire, finances will remain on your mind when you retire young since there is so much life ahead.  I finally had a chance to delve into finance books, learn about the stock market, how to make passive income.  Luckily this was a good time to get interested in the stock market as it has been on a record streak.  I don’t presume to think it is my expertise in stock trading that has made it so much fun, but being in the right place at the right time and jumping in.  If you are interested, I found the following books helpful: The White Coat Investor: A Doctor’s Guide To Personal Finance And Investing,and  The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy.

 

Pursuing something I always wanted to do.

I am writing!  My first article was about the decision to retire at 37.  It was published on the website KevinMD.com.  I was shocked and impressed by the reach of his website to other physicians.  It was wonderful to reconnect with colleagues when contacted after seeing the article.  I also enjoyed hearing from internet “strangers” who have been in remarkably similar circumstances and felt like I was telling their story.  Since the article appeared to resonate with a lot of physicians, it made me want to write more.  There are obviously people going through the same struggles and maybe it helps to let each other know about it. I also feel it is important to know your life can take another path if you need it to and I want to help others realize this.  Hence my blog.

 

Blogging. 

If you told me I would be blogging 6 months ago I would have said, “Not a chance”.  I am typically a very private person but I’ll admit that sending in my article about leaving medicine was cathartic and liberating.  Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to share your life with other people, especially if it may help them.  Besides, I am not bound by an employer or hospital anymore so I can pretty much say whatever is on my mind. 

 

Travel. 

This is one of my main passions.  I would go anywhere, anytime. I am always up for a trip to somewhere new.  So far, in my 6 months of retirement, I have been to the following places:

Clearwater, FL

Wilmington, NC

New Orleans, LA

Las Vegas, NV

Aruba

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 Plans in the next few months:

Fernandina Beach, FL

Outer Banks, NC

Sonoma, CA 

Trips out of the country are limited for now with 3 young kids.  I have to convince my husband that you can travel long distances with little ones first.

 

 Being available and present for my kids.

 I haven’t been able to be there for so much in the past.  It’s hard for all working parents- I get it. I absolutely understand this is a luxury and am so grateful for this. I wish there could be a better balance so that mothers and fathers wouldn’t feel so conflicted between their jobs and their family life. So, since I have this opportunity I am excited to relish it.  I will be there now for all field trips, doctor’s appointments, teacher conferences and soccer games.  All things I had to miss in the past.  I know kids are resilient and they know their parents love them when they are working but it’s hard on the parents sometimes more so than the kids.  We want to be there for those things. So for now, I am doing things like writing and investing and exploring new adventures that are flexible so that I can make my own schedule with my own priorities first.  I have been missing this control over my own life so much over the years.

 

Planning next steps.  

Retirees like to travel but when you have young kids you need to get creative.  In the next few years I want to start coordinating summer long trips to other countries with my family.  I don’t want to uproot them from their schedules/school life, so I plan to use the summers to experience other cultures and expose them to different ways of life.  I want my children to know more than the comfortable lifestyle in America that they are privileged to experience currently.  We are such a small piece of this world and I want them to understand that. There are things bigger than ourselves.

 

Lastly, I want to learn how to cook! 

Going straight from college to medical school, to residency, to full time employment as a physician left no time for learning to cook for myself or family (also no time to actually make a meal even if I knew how). I currently know how to make a pizza using premade pizza shells or “breakfast for dinner” which includes pancakes and eggs.  Yes, sad I know.   So, my goal is to learn how to make one thing every 3 weeks.  I need to start small- cooking is overwhelming to me!

Thoughts, comments? Suggestions?  Are you retired or do you have plans for what to do if you retire early from medicine? I would love to hear from you.

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18 thoughts on “You Retired From Medicine- Now What? ”

  1. If you want easy cooking and recipes for the whole family I know a lot of people recommend Blue Apron. I want to try it but they dont ship to PR so eventually when we move I’ll try it. There is another one thats Green something that gets the box to your house with all ingredients and the recipes

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  2. Being available and present. That is everything. That has been my biggest challenge over my 12 years as a pulmonary and critical care MD. Available physically, emotionally. Playing an active and meaningful role in their lives. My kids are now 19 and 16 and they are a large part of my decision to go part time as both are still at home…but I don’t know for how long. Enjoy your time with them and their youth. Not a day goes by that I don’t travel back in my mind and remember them curling up against me while reading bedtime books and stories fighting off sleep.

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  3. Yes, the absolute best thing about retirement for sure. Thanks for your comment jtopin. All parents working the type of hours we do in medicine probably feel the same way. Sometimes it is just not possible to be at home as much as we would like and our patient’s needs come first. That is wonderful you will soon have more time with your kids while they are still at home. From what I hear, they need you even more in their teenage years!

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  4. I decided to retire from OB/GYN last July. I was financially crippled by trying to keep it going. But it was hard to let go. I now work for an insurance company (yes I crossed over to the dark side as a medical director). Its been hard trying to climb out of the dept, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I dont regret it and wish i had done it sooner. I am now able to actually be present in my families life not just a member occasionally. I work from home but am finding it hard to get motivated in beginning new things or restarting things I use to enjoy. Reading, cooking knitting and exercising. Its been almost a year and I feel like there is so much to catch up on but cant seem to move. I just keep dwelling on the fact that I have wasted so much time.

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  5. Marcia, congrats on having the courage to change your situation to one that works better for yourself and family. I definitely understand having to relearn your old hobbies- you haven’t had time to do them in so long you almost forget what you used to love!
    I am also happy to have made the change when I did and glad I didn’t stay in a situation that just wasn’t working anymore (despite the fact I initially loved my career). Good luck on reaching the end of the debt tunnel!

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  6. For cooking, I follow the recipe exactly the first time, after I have it down, I make my own variations. I like the food network recipe site, they give a breakdown of prep time, cook time, and ingredients at the start. I just search for the dish I want to make and skim through for one that fits because their chefs have different styles.
    Another suggestion is Rachel Ray’s 30 min meals. I found they took me longer than 30 minutes the first time I tried them, but you get quicker with practice.
    My favorite is Alton Brown, because in his 1st book it is broken down by cooking technique, like searing. He explains it through a specific item ,like a steak, but then goes on to give examples of searing vegetables etc. The scientist in me finds this method a great way to learn.
    Best wishes on your journey!

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  7. Great post! Congrats on your retirement! We share your passion for travel and hope you are able to convince your husband about the joys of long distance travel with little ones. We’ve taken our to Japan, New Zealand and Ireland in the past year. Although their early wakings (or late bedtimes depending on the direction flown) can be exhausting, we’ve made some great memories. Cheers!

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  8. Not to pry, but I’m just wondering how one can afford to retire at 37? I’m 48, OB GYN, and feel I’ll never be able to retire much less travel and enjoy such rewarding, but also costly, experiences afterward. 😦 #trapped

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  9. OBdoctormom-I am so enjoying reading about your journey. Thank you for sharing. I am 35 y/o Obgyn, soon to be momma of three as well! I left private practice for all the reasons you speak too and work 24 hrs a week as hospitalist. I am also so enjoying being present for my children, exercise (yoga for me), and time with friends/family!

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  10. That all sounds wonderful!

    A lot of people say they want to travel more, read and learn, pick up new hobbies, etc… when retired. You’re actually doing all of that and then some. Isn’t it great to be productive in different ways? I look forward to joining the ranks of the early retired (from medicine) in another year or two.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

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  11. Rodni, I get it. Its hard with all the medical school debt we accumulate. Everyone seems to have their own path to financial independence (ability to retire and not feel trapped by financial restraints). l recently wrote a guest blog about this on another site, but since I get asked this frequently I will post the article on my website later this week. please check back!

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  12. Jenn, thanks for reading! Sounds like we are on similar paths. I am finding it very interesting to see how the medical field and demands on physicians are changing to make it unpalatable to stay in the field full time. Sounds like you have found a sweet spot that works for your family working 24 hours per week!

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  13. PoF:
    Yes, I am finding interests I didn’t even know I had! Congrats to you on your quickly approaching early retirement. I have a feeling your retirement will lead to some great experiences to write about on your blog!

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  14. It is really sad to see all these posts about young obs leaving the field. It says something about the speciality. Ob is a very hard lifestyle. I retired from OB at 56.5. I still do gyn 3 days per week at 60. I do not miss the politics or the phone calls at all. I am constantly asked if I miss delivering babies. Most people have no clue.

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  15. hatton1- Agree. There is much more to the specialty than the truly rewarding part of delivering a healthy baby that the public does not know about. Hopefully, speaking out will help make some positive changes regarding working in unsafe conditions, malpractice reform, and student debt.

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