Hello; I’m a retired Consultation-Liaison Psychiatrist and this blog so far has been mostly about how I navigated my last year in the phased retirement program at the hospital where I’ve been working. I retired fully on June 29, 2020. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue the blog. The photo of me spelling “hello” with a calculator helps me get perspective on my career. I never spelled words with this vintage calculator when I actually used it in college.
The calculator and I have something in common; we’re both old. However, being old and, by extension, being retired does not mean useless or dysfunctional. I still use the calculator because it works.
You can debate the meaning of “vintage” with respect to calculators and mine is not worth a great deal of money to collectors. It’s a Sharp Elsi Mate EL-505. I found one collector website that showed a 503-model going for $99. You’ll find somebody claiming it was first manufactured in 1985, but here’s where my personal history lesson really starts.
I distinctly recall buying the 505 before I went to college in 1981. I was one of those married, older adult students who had been out working for a living and had been planning to be an engineer. That was because I had worked for civil engineers for several years as a young man. I was a surveyor’s assistant and drafter. That didn’t work out, even though I had that pretty good calculator.
I eventually decided on going to medical school and wound up being a C-L Psychiatrist in the general hospital. It’s a lot like being a fireman, running all over the hospital trying to put out the “fires” of what happens when medical illness collides with psychiatric issues—which it turns out is pretty often. I worked in an academic medical center and taught medical students, residents, and other health care learners. One Family Medicine resident actually bought me a fireman’s helmet after going through the general hospital psychiatry rotation. The thing I’m holding in my hand is a camp stool, which a surgeon and palliative care physician gave me. I tried to sit down whenever I could with patients because I think it builds rapport and is more respectful than standing over them. On my last day, I gave the little chair to the first consultation-liaison psychiatry fellow we’ve had in decades. I wish him all the best.
Now I’m at the end of my career as a physician. I’ll be one of the many physicians who unfortunately will contribute to the shortage of doctors by retiring. About 3 in 5 psychiatrists are age 55 or older. It’s just one of the many psychological challenges of retirement.
Now that I’m at the end of my career as a physician, I’ll be one of the many physicians who unfortunately will contribute to the shortage of doctors by retiring. About 3 in 5 psychiatrists are age 55 or older. It’s just one of the many psychological challenges of retirement.
Those challenges are what I have chronicled in the past year. The difficulty of letting things go and embracing retirement seem almost incalculable.