February 20, 2024

Staying Professionally Active in Retirement

W. James DeMartini, MD, FACR

A few years ago, the ACR® Senior and/or Retired Section (SRS) published my article, I Flunked Retirement, in which I shared about how I felt rather empty when I retired at age 72, even though I did all the things you’re supposed to do in retirement, such as traveling, golf, skiing and taking classes at the local university.

Somehow, my article was picked up by the author Mark S. Walton, a Peabody Award-winning journalist and CNN primetime anchor. He recently published a book, Unretired: How Highly Effective People Live Happily Ever After, featuring multiple examples of people, including me, who rejected retirement. I think this is a good reference for any older radiologist contemplating their next move.

Another useful resource is the Feb. 28 SRS webinar, How to Transition Out of Practice, during which you will hear from three experts with extensive knowledge about what happens when you retire or transition to part-time work.

At the last ACR Annual Meeting, a discussion ensued about the diminishing number of medical students entering the field of radiology and the current low supply of radiologists within the specialty. Many attendees suggested ways to correct this problem and increase medical student applicants, but very few offered ideas about the importance of retention and how to maintain the existing labor pool.

One concern about continuing to work is that staying in practice may restrict the ascent of new trainees into jobs. However, that is hardly the case in the present workforce. Scope of practice issues are also a challenge, and the ACR is working to advocate for a clear definition of scope in order to protect patient access to safe, high-quality care.

I think radiologists who’ve already served many years of practice are a huge asset to the community, offering a vast store of knowledge and wisdom. Is it not possible for some of us to assume a reduced, but comfortable workload, a narrowed field perhaps, to keep active? If we cannot cover the needs of our profession, others will be happy to fill in the gaps. Now at age 76, I enjoy the stimulation of working six to eight days a month.

Many SRS members may experience the fear of losing their acumen or keeping up with the field, but with internal quality control and multiple online resources, including the ACR Case in Point® — we can keep those concerns in check.