Being an eye doctor is an incredibly rewarding profession.
Among the obvious benefits of owning and managing a successful ophthalmic practice are the chance to have a positive impact on your patients, the flexible schedule and work-life balance, the wide range of specialities available to suit your unique interests, and a strong opportunity for job growth and financial success.
For this reason, many ophthalmic professionals stay on the job until well into their retirement years, choosing instead to continue doing what they love for as long as possible. But as with any career, there may come a time when retirement becomes a viable option.
The decision to retire is an incredibly personal one, and it should be based on your unique goals and desires both inside and outside of the office. As you weigh the pros and cons of retirement, ask yourself the following three questions to help you decide if stepping down is right for you.
1. Are you willing to embrace new technology?
As with any field, but perhaps especially with medicine, technology is advancing at a rapid pace. In the ophthalmic arena, digital technology has completely transformed the patient exam process in recent years, resulting in increased efficiency, fewer errors and remakes, and significantly improved patient outcomes.
However, making the switch to digital systems can be challenging, especially for veteran ophthalmic professionals who may be more comfortable using manual equipment. The best way to embrace new technology is to begin slowly, starting with one piece of equipment—a digital refractor, for example—and adding other pieces as you become more comfortable.
On the flip side, if you are not ready to make sweeping changes to the way you are used to doing things, that might be a sign that retirement could be the right move.
2. Have you accomplished your career goals?
Think back to when you first started out. What were your short- and long-term career goals? Have you accomplished all of those goals? For example, did you begin at a group practice and eventually launch your own solo practice? This is a common goal among eye care professionals.
As you consider retirement, it may also help to think back to what you considered your "peak" professional year—and not just in terms of revenue. Maybe your practice saw a record number of patients, or it could be that you performed a high number of surgical procedures that year. Your peak professional year may also include accomplishments such as branching out into a new field or reaching an educational milestone.
If you can look back and say that you have checked off each of your goals, the decision to retire should come easily. If not, it may be time to brush off that goal list and focus on what's next.
3. Are you financially able to retire?
Financial stability is, of course, one of the biggest roadblocks to retirement. However, if you are confident that you will have enough income to live comfortably and enjoy retirement, why not take the opportunity to leave work behind and focus on your non-professional bucket list?
Many doctors choose to ease into retirement slowly, gradually reducing their time in the office and ultimately either handing over the reins or selling their ophthalmic practice before they enter into the next phase of their life.
It may help to sit down with a retirement planner as well as with your spouse or partner to get a clear view of your financial situation and map out your post-retirement future. That way, you can feel confident knowing you have made the right decision.
Not planning on retiring anytime soon? Visit the Veatch Ophthalmic Instruments blog for helpful tips on owning and operating a successful practice, including how to adopt digital technology to gain a competitive edge.