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Time Passes. Then What?

Preparing for a Rewarding Retirement Starts Now

Like many medical specialists, vascular surgeons are aging rather quickly. When Dr. Frank Pomposelli became chair of the SVS Clinical Practice Council last year, he was surprised to learn that 61 percent of practicing SVS members were age 50 or older. Even more surprising was learning how quickly that demographic might translate to changes in care delivery with 25 percent of members planning to reduce work hours (14 percent) or retire (11 percent) in the next three years.∗

Conversations with other council members resulted in the first Vascular Annual Meeting session to address the spectrum of challenges facing vascular surgeons with advancing age – challenges that deserve attention well before the point of retirement.

In a 90-minute breakfast session (B6) from 6:30 to am. Friday, June 2, four seasoned colleagues will take participants through four key issues as they specifically relate to vascular surgeons.

  • Dr. Mark R. Katlic will offer a primer on physical and cognitive deterioration and their possible effects on clinical performance.
  • Dr. Bruce L. Gewertz will discuss how to manage burnout.
  • Dr. Krishna Jain will delve into the thorny business and relationship issues linked to the pre-retirement transition years.
  • Dr. John (Jeb) Hallett will share a framework for structuring a rewarding post-practice life.

Mentors, meaning and courage

Asked what sparked him to begin considering his own retirement, Dr. Hallett recalled several conversations with older mentors when he himself was in his 40s. "I listened very closely as colleagues – great surgeons, brilliant surgeons – talked with enthusiasm and confidence about how they were ending their careers. I saw that if you prepared, you could stop operating and still be happy."

Since then, Dr. Hallett has come to believe that the process of preparing for a rewarding retirement begins with developing a clear understanding of what you value and how to carry it forward. "Professionals are happiest when whatever they are doing engages them, has real meaning," he said. "For a vascular surgeon, meaning is at least in part tied to one’s mastery of a vast storehouse of knowledge. What happens to that knowledge when you retire? How do you continue to deploy what you know?"

Session not for elders only

While retirement is most often a function of age, Dr. Pomposelli suggested there are good reasons for younger members to consider participating in the Friday breakfast session as well. "In any group practice setting, transition issues affect younger partners as much if not more (than the older partners) and navigating those issues can be difficult and painful," he said. "Burnout is not only an issue for older surgeons, it can happen at any time."

∗Information from the 2015 SVS annual member survey