physician retirement savings

Financial Planning

Physician Retirement: 7 Signs You Are Ready

Published April 28, 2023

The majority of physicians plan to retire at age 68, much later than the average American. Why is physician retirement often delayed?

Reasons for Delayed Physician Retirement

According to the recent CompHealth data survey, the majority of physicians 50 years and older intend to retire at 68 – five years later than the majority of Americans. 

This data has led researchers to ask an interesting question: Why would you want to work a half-decade longer than most other people on the planet?

The most frequent answers to this question range include: 

  • It’s difficult to walk away from one’s highest earning years.

  • There are numerous social benefits to a career in medicine and walking away from it all can be a painful decision.

  • 91 percent of CompHealth survey respondents in the 60+ age group said they were still extremely useful in the field – 89 percent said they were still highly competitive against younger doctors.

  • The pressure to keep saving drives you forward. Most doctors begin their careers later than most (due to many years of education and residency) and have fewer years to build retirement savings.

  • Medicine is demanding and the thought of letting one’s patients and staff down is a pressure that’s hard to shake.

While the survey revealed that the majority of doctors plan to work late into their 60s, there was some concern about being able to stay competitive within the rapidly evolving healthcare environment (38 percent to be exact).  

With that being said, there comes a point in time when enough is enough and the questions arise: Am I ready to retire financially? Is my retirement plan going to sustain my family and allow me to enjoy the future?

The following signs will help you gauge if and when you’ll be ready to hang up your stethoscope:

1.  Have a Clear Vision of What You’re Retiring To

One of the most important things to consider is whether you “see” life and purpose beyond your practice. Do you know what your “True North” is? This may sound a bit corny, but you may be surprised at how not looking into your “why” beyond medicine can lead you down a rabbit hole of confusion – both personally and financially.

We encourage you to ponder exactly at what age you see yourself retiring. Also, what do you see yourself doing on a daily basis? Who will you spend time with? Where will you travel? How much will you need to have in your bank account to accommodate your needs and desires? The clearer your vision, the more sound and effective your retirement plan will become.

doctor retirement

2. You’re on Track for Recreating Your Paycheck

One of the largest sources of anxiety for our clients is navigating through the concepts of saving and spending for retirement.


When we say this, we’re referring to whether or not you are prepared to tap into your nest egg in order to enjoy your retirement. Are you 100% certain you have enough savings to last and/or retirement benefits to see you through? 

This begs the following questions:

  • Have you thought deeply about the pension(s) you will be receiving? Will it be enough?

  • Are you going to gain enough return from your current investments to supplement your life?

  • If you do have to tap into your savings, are you confident enough that you’ll be able to live comfortably? Does the thought of tapping into your savings to live stress you out?

Your answer to these questions will either liberate you and/or inspire you to get creative with your time and energy to generate extra cash to thrive while retired. 

3. You're Thinking More about Financial Independence than Retirement

We hear from a growing number of our clients that the traditional concept of retirement is losing its zeal. The thought of spending time in a rocking chair reading a book or all day on the golf course without a purpose sends chills down their spine.

They are increasingly talking about wanting to explore other lines of work or invest in innovative business concepts/technologies that offer benefits to others. This makes sense, after spending years and years in medical school, then diving head-first into residency, and then having a pre-prescribed career/life laid out in front of you. 

What about your other dreams and imaginations? Could there be a future in them for you?

Thankfully, retirement provides those opportunities and you can take advantage of the time you have to pursue additional dreams you may have had for years. Also, given your education and experience in the world of medicine, there are exciting ways you can leverage your knowledge and repackage it through writing, media, teaching, consulting, and more.

The options are endless, and we can help you explore them and how they can fit into your present and future life.

4. You Can Successfully Stress Test Your Physician Retirement Plan

As you know, the reason it takes so long to get through medical school and residency is that there’s no one-size-fits-all manual for preparation and success. It’s a long and sometimes grueling process – and the same goes for financial planning and strategy. 

It’s vital that you prepare for the unexpected and ask important questions.

Do the numbers add up? Do you have the right advisors in place? What happens with external factors that you don’t have control over, like inflation, changes in taxation, and legislation? 

A solid financial plan will look at the “what ifs” and bring the scary monster of uncertainty out from under the bed so that you can create a strategy that makes sense for your future.

At Earned, we help stress test your retirement plan and explore options. This includes laying out several market opportunities that can increase your ability to save – giving you the ability to spend with confidence when the time is right.

5. You fully understand tactical needs

After you’ve designed your vision for your future, there are tactical steps to consider.

By this, we’re referring to things like pensions, Medicare, taxes, healthcare costs, family concerns, trusts, and more.

How much will it all cost? How long does it all need to last? 

It’s easy to underestimate your needs, wants, and wishes. Thus, looking at them realistically and pragmatically and finding answers that make sense can give you the confidence you need as you move closer and closer to retirement.

retirement benefits for doctors

6. Your Physician Retirement Plan is Responsive to Potential Changes

With the knowledge that the only constant is change, it’s important that your financial plan can be responsive to the ups and downs that the future may bring. This translates to having a plan that takes into account the external and internal factors that can impact your future plans.

For example, the economy may take a dive and the investments you made may not pay off as you hoped they would. Knowing what your first step should be in this situation allows you to quickly pivot. This also means partnering with a financial financial advisor that is proactive rather than reactive.

7. You're Healthy Enough to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

If you were honest with yourself right at this moment, is there anything you need to change about your current routine to optimize your own health? 

This is perhaps one of the most important questions you can ask yourself as your retirement years creep up. What’s the use of working so hard in the hospital and/or clinic healing others if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor as a healthy being?

Or, what if you have been relatively healthy all of your life, and when you retire an unforeseen health challenge pops up? All of a sudden your entire perspective on what it means to live happily can shift. 

Having the right insurance policies (health, disability, life, etc.) in place can make all the difference in the world.  

Help with Physician Retirement Planning

The secret to retirement success is planning… planning… and then planning some more.

At Earned, we find that there are no two physicians with the same exact retirement plans and formulas for financial freedom. This is one of the reasons we love what we do so much, as it never gets boring! 

When considering your retirement – when, how, and what you’ll retire to – it’s important that you focus on what works best for you and your family. Period. There is no one-size-fits approach, thankfully.

As you take the time to find those answers, an Earned advisor can help you assess whether you’re on the road to being retirement ready. This includes mapping out a variety of scenarios and a plan for making your retirement goals a reality.

This post was all about 7 signs you are ready for physician retirement. 

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