Physician Retirement Age by Specialty in 2023

Physician Retirement Age by Specialty in 2023

The retirement age of physicians is important in healthcare as it affects workforce availability, patient access to care, and healthcare costs. Retirement trends among physicians vary, with some retiring earlier than expected due to burnout and others working longer due to financial considerations or a desire to remain active in their profession. Factors affecting physician retirement include financial planning, career satisfaction, health status, changes in healthcare policies, regulations and medical school debt. It’s important for physicians to plan for retirement and consider their options in order to ensure a smooth transition and a secure financial future.

Retirement age in the medical field

Retirement age in the medical field can vary depending on a variety of factors, including personal preference, financial considerations, and changes in healthcare policies and regulations. According to a 2021 survey by Medscape, the average age of retirement for physicians in the United States is 65, although some retire earlier or later than that.

Factors that can influence retirement decisions among physicians include burnout, desire for work-life balance, financial stability, and changes in healthcare policies and regulations. Many physicians also choose to continue working in a part-time or consulting capacity after officially retiring from their primary practice.

Regardless of when physicians choose to retire, it’s important for them to plan ahead and consider their financial and personal goals in order to ensure a smooth transition into retirement and a secure financial future.

Average retirement age of doctors

The average retirement age of doctors can vary depending on factors such as specialty, gender, and personal preference. According to a 2021 survey by Medscape, the average age of retirement for physicians in the United States is 65, although this can vary widely.

Factors that can influence the retirement age of doctors include financial considerations, career satisfaction, and health status. Some physicians choose to retire earlier than 65 due to burnout, while others continue working well into their 70s or beyond.

Regardless of when they choose to retire, it’s important for doctors to plan ahead and consider their financial and personal goals in order to ensure a smooth transition into retirement and a secure financial future.

(cite: AMA,

Age of retirement by medical specialties

According to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, the median age of retirement from clinical activities for physicians is 65 years. However, the retirement age varies across medical specialties, with obstetrics retiring around 64.5 years and cardiologists around 66.5 years. Women tend to retire about 1 year earlier than men. You will find most anesthesiologists and psychiatry professional retiring between the ages of 64 and 66. It’s worth noting that many physicians continue to be active in non-clinical professional activities after retiring from clinical work, such as administration or education, resulting in a median retirement age of around 66 years from any professional activity. It’s important to remember that these figures represent median retirement ages, and approximately half of all physicians retire from clinical activity after age 65 years.

(cite: Association of American Medical Colleges,

Factors affecting retirement age

There are a variety of factors that can influence the retirement age of physicians, including:

  1. Job satisfaction: Physicians who are satisfied with their work may choose to work longer, while those who are dissatisfied may retire earlier.
  2. Burnout: Burnout is a significant problem in the medical field, and physicians experiencing burnout may retire earlier than expected to reduce stress and improve their well-being.
  3. Work/life balance: Achieving a healthy work/life balance can be challenging for physicians, and those who prioritize their personal life may choose to retire earlier in order to spend more time with family and pursue hobbies or other interests.
  4. Financial considerations: Financial considerations are also a major factor in retirement decisions, as physicians who have saved enough for retirement may choose to retire earlier, while those who need to continue working to maintain their financial stability may work longer.
  5. Health status: Physicians who experience health problems may retire earlier than expected, while those who are in good health may choose to continue working for longer.

It’s important for physicians to consider these factors and plan ahead in order to make informed decisions about retirement and ensure a smooth transition into a secure financial future.

(cite: Recruiter,

Physician Retirement Plans and Options

Physician retirement plans and options provide a means for physicians to save and prepare for retirement. These plans, such as 401(k)s, Cash balance plans, and defined benefit plans, offer tax advantages and potential employer contributions, helping physicians accumulate retirement savings over their careers. Having a solid retirement plan is crucial for physicians to ensure financial security and maintain their desired lifestyle during retirement, making it important to carefully consider and participate in appropriate retirement plans and options.

Retirement plans available to physicians

Physicians have access to a variety of retirement plans, including:

  1. 401(k) or 403(b) plans: These are employer-sponsored plans that allow employees to contribute a portion of their salary into a retirement account. Some employers also offer matching contributions, up to a certain amount.
  2. Traditional or Roth IRAs: These are individual retirement accounts that allow individuals to contribute up to a certain amount each year, with tax benefits and investment growth potential.
  3. Solo 401(k) plans: These plans are available to self-employed individuals and small business owners, including physicians who operate their own practice. They allow for higher contribution limits than traditional 401(k) plans.
  4. Defined benefit plans: These are employer-sponsored plans that provide a fixed income during retirement based on years of service and salary history. They are less common than they used to be, but some hospitals and large medical groups still offer them.
  5. Cash balance plans: These are similar to defined benefit plans, but the benefit is defined as a hypothetical account balance rather than a fixed income. Physicians may find these plans attractive because they offer higher contribution limits than other retirement plans.

It’s important for physicians to carefully consider their retirement goals and choose the options that best fit their needs. Financial advisors can provide guidance on retirement planning and help physicians make informed decisions about their future.

(cite: Nonprofit Healthcare Retirement Plan)

Options for full or part-time retirement

Physicians have several options for full or part-time retirement, depending on their individual needs and financial goals. Here are some common options:

  1. Full retirement: Physicians can choose to fully retire from their medical practice, which involves stopping work completely and relying on their retirement savings and other sources of income.
  2. Part-time retirement: Physicians can also choose to work part-time in their medical practice, gradually reducing their workload as they transition into retirement. This can help them ease into retirement while still maintaining their professional connections and generating some income.
  3. Locum tenens: Physicians can also work as locum tenens, which involves taking temporary assignments in medical practices, hospitals, or other healthcare facilities. This can provide them with flexibility and the ability to work on their own terms.
  4. Consulting: Physicians can also choose to work as consultants, providing their expertise to medical practices, hospitals, or other healthcare providers. This can be a great way for them to stay involved in the industry while reducing their workload.
  5. Teaching: Finally, physicians can also choose to transition into teaching roles, sharing their knowledge and expertise with the next generation of medical professionals. This can be a rewarding way for them to stay engaged with the field and contribute to the growth of the profession.

(cite: Medicare,

Older physicians in the workforce

The presence of older physicians in the workforce is relatively common. Many physicians choose to continue practicing beyond traditional retirement age due to factors such as a passion for medicine, financial considerations, a desire to contribute to patient care, or the need to maintain medical skills and knowledge.

Physicians have the option to retire fully or transition into part-time retirement, which involves reducing their work hours or responsibilities gradually. This can help physicians maintain their income and benefits while still enjoying more free time and a less stressful work schedule.

Number of physicians in the medical profession and percentage of older doctors

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, as of 2021, there were approximately 1.1 million active physicians in the United States. The percentage of older physicians (age 65 and above) has been increasing steadily in recent years, and as of 2020, around 27% of physicians in the US were age 65 or older.

(cite: AAMC,

Benefits and challenges of having older physicians in the workforce

Having older physicians in the workforce can bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and expertise to the healthcare system. They have seen and treated a wide variety of conditions and patients, and can provide mentorship to younger physicians. However, older physicians may face challenges in keeping up with technological advancements and may experience physical and mental decline as they age. Additionally, the increasing number of older physicians may limit job opportunities for new doctors entering the workforce. Not having a full retirement is also a possibility to cut back off of the full time hours of the physician workforce.

(cite: Private Practice Recruiter,

Retirement age by specialty

Average retirement age for primary care physicians

According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Physicians Foundation, the average retirement age for primary care physicians (including family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics) is 68 years old. However, this can vary based on individual circumstances such as personal preferences, financial situation, and health.

(cite: AAMC,

Retirement age for medical specialties

According to a survey conducted by Medscape in 2021, the average retirement age for physicians in different specialties was as follows:

  • Cardiology: 66.5 years
  • Radiology: 66 years
  • Anesthesiology: 66 years
  • OB/GYN: 64.5 years
  • Oncology: 65 years

It’s important to note that retirement age can vary widely among individual physicians within a specialty, and that retirement decisions are often influenced by personal and financial factors as well as professional considerations.

(cite: AAMC,

Early retirement among surgeons

Early retirement among surgeons can happen for a variety of reasons, including burnout, health issues, family priorities, financial independence, and desire for a change in career or lifestyle.

Options for retiring early as a surgeon may include reducing work hours or transitioning to part-time work, taking a sabbatical, moving into a non-clinical role, or even retiring completely from the medical profession. It’s important to carefully consider the financial implications of early retirement, such as the impact on retirement savings and debt repayment. Consulting with a financial advisor and creating a solid retirement plan can help ensure a smooth transition into early retirement.

(cite: Thoracic Surgery Recruiter,

Impact of the Pandemic on physician retirement plans

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on physician retirement plans across various medical specialties, including family medicine, emergency medicine, and preventive medicine.

Family physicians who were nearing retirement age were faced with difficult decisions, as the pandemic increased their workload and made it challenging to provide patient care while also prioritizing their own health and safety. As a result, some family physicians decided to retire earlier than they had planned, while others chose to continue working but with a reduced workload or telemedicine options.

For emergency medicine and critical care physicians, the pandemic has led to increased stress and burnout, as they have been at the forefront of treating patients with COVID-19. As a result, some emergency medicine physicians have considered retiring early, while others have sought out mental health resources and support to help manage their stress and cope with the challenges of the pandemic.

Preventive medicine physicians have also been impacted by the pandemic, as they have had to adjust to providing care through telemedicine and implementing new protocols to ensure patient safety. Some preventive medicine physicians have also reported feeling overworked and stressed, which may lead to early retirement decisions.

Overall, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of retirement planning and the need to have a solid financial plan in place to prepare for unexpected events such as a pandemic or other unforeseen circumstances. It has also underscored the importance of work-life balance and the need for physicians to prioritize their own health and well-being as they approach retirement age.

(cite: Medical Practice Consultant,

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