Retirement is the reward for a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. You’ve earned the right to hang up your stethoscope and enjoy the good life: travel, golf, pursue a favourite hobby or take up a new one, whatever turns your crank.
Not surprisingly, more than 75% of all retirees report retirement satisfaction. But for those that struggle with retirement, adjusting to a life without work can pose challenges, everything from emotional and physical problems, to drug and alcohol addiction, to financial-planning issues. Even among doctors, this is not uncommon, nor should you feel that you have to go it alone.
If you’re retired, or you’re planning to retire and you are not feeling quite right about things, you should know that help is at hand. There are a variety of services, and even a book, available for your assistance and reassurance.
For example, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) offers, for its members, ePhysicianHealth.com, an online health and wellness resource designed to help doctors in their personal lives.
The site offers a constantly expanding menu of modules, each addressing an issue — for example, Anxiety; Depression, Burnout and Suicide; Substance Abuse Disorders; and Weight, Nutrition and Fitness — and each authored by a leading expert in physician health.
Each module introduces the topic; highlights the relevance of the topic to doctors; provides resources for dealing with the topic; and outlines next steps. Each module can be downloaded as a printable e-book.
In addition, the CMA provides a wealth and practice management service through its company, MD Physician Services.
Beyond that, a number of provincial medical associations offer programs that address subjects relevant to retired or soon-to-retire member doctors.
For example, the New Brunswick Medical Society offers an advocacy service for physicians featuring a 24-hour confidential hotline and helps identify those needing assistance, intervention and follow-up services. It also arranges referrals.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) offers confidential professional counselling and information services for all NLMA members through its inConfidence program. Work/life consultants are also available to offer support with a wide variety of issues.
NLMA also offers MDLink, a program that connects physician-patients with physician-providers.
At Doctors Nova Scotia, the Professional Support Program’s physician coordinators assess each doctor’s issues and, depending on the problem, can provide counselling or make a referral to the appropriate service, doctor or resource. There’s also a Business of Medicine Program designed to take the guesswork out of running a practice.
Alberta doctors can address mental health and family issues through the Alberta Medical Association’s Physician and Family Support Program (PFSP). The program offers general counselling and, on request, can provide education sessions about career transitions and retirement. Moreover, the PFSP can integrate medical treatment to address physical or mental illness.
In Saskatchewan, the provincial medical association’s Physician Health Program offers confidential referral, intervention and on-going support to physicians and their families. Consultation and advice are also available to doctors handling difficult interpersonal issues.
Through its team of clinical staff, the Ontario Medical Association’s (OMA) Physician Health Program and Professionals Health Program arrange appropriate assessment, treatment and program services available to address a wide range of problems experienced by physicians.
To dig deeper still, pick up a copy of Life After Medicine — Retirement Lifestyle Readiness. Written by Toronto-based author Alan Roadburg, PhD, the book features insights collected from research conducted among 300 retired physicians in the U.S. and Canada, including 180 retired OMA doctors. The book, which also offers Life Goal Planning self-help exercises, costs around $18 and is available online at Amazon and Chapters.
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