February 17, 2023

I Flunked Retirement

W. James DeMartini, MD, FACR

I made the decision to retire in 2018 for no other reason than it was a nice, even number, I was 72 years old and had worked for 40 years. I did all the things you are supposed to do in retirement, including traveled more, started a book club, completed various classes at the local university and took painting lessons — all of which I enjoyed. With more time, I also expected to get better at various sports, including golf, skiing and cycling, but at the age of 72, the gains were modest at best.

I volunteered at the nearby medical school to teach radiology residents and impart years of wisdom, but found the students were more focused on the esoteric. The boards don’t test wisdom.

In general, retirement was OK, but I found it rather empty. I was no longer a contributing member of society, though the whole world was open before me. The one thing I was fairly competent at and always enjoyed was radiology.

After six months, I realized that I was flunking retirement.

As it turned out, my group was still short of radiologists after hiring two new members and was very enthusiastic for any help they could get. I returned as a salaried employee, giving them six to 10 days each month that I could work. No call, no administrative obligations — only pure radiology, which I was trained to do many years ago. It’s been great, and the income (though not needed) is appreciated.

Working only one or two days a week is not tiring and you can meet most days with enthusiasm.

Returning to part-time employment has worked for me, and right now, radiologists are in short supply. If you have any interest in returning, you are sorely needed!