Life as an emergency physician is addictive: the opportunity to see so many patients with a myriad of problems, the ability to "make a difference" in so many lives, the adrenalin high of working under pressure, and then the incredible exhilaration of saving a life in danger.
Yet, the practice takes its toll in the form of burnout and multiple stresses: personal and family pressures, awesome workloads due to emergency department overcrowding, and the physical cost of the night shifts that dot our schedules among other things.
The thought of retiring is tempting but also fraught with resistance. Several years before my stroke I did retire and then struggled through the aftermath.
I found a career after a career, a new form of practice. Not one that paid enough to support me but it did pay enough to cover the cost of maintaining the practice. I took satisfaction in knowing that I was making a contribution.
Then one day, I got out of my car only to find that my leg was asleep. The rest was history.
I was having a cerebral hemorrhage. Soon the entire left side of my body was paralyzed. Life would never be the same again. I had just taken the emergency exit out of my career and life as I knew it. There I was, standing in the alley with the emergency exit door locked, barring reentry to life as I had known it.
If you are still able to work and debating the option of retirement, act now. Live the life after work that you want to have. Do it now before a medical emergency comes along and strikes you down, shoving you out into life's alley.