Features  |   June 2020
The ‘R’ Word (Retirement) for Anesthesiologists
Author Affiliations
  • Jonathan D. Katz, MD
    Committee on Occupational Health
Article Information
Quality Improvement / Features
Features   |   June 2020
The ‘R’ Word (Retirement) for Anesthesiologists
ASA Monitor 6 2020, Vol.84, 24-25.
ASA Monitor 6 2020, Vol.84, 24-25.
“Physicians are useless after age 60 and as such should retire to a college for a year and then be euthanized with chloroform.”
– Sir William Osler. Taken from his retirement address at Johns Hopkins University in 1905. He was age 55 years at the time.
The decisions surrounding the transition from active clinical practice to retirement are among the most consequential in an anesthesiologist’s life – equal in magnitude to those taken at the beginning of medical training and practice. Regrettably, few physicians provide the former decision as much attention as they do to the latter. When and how one retires from the practice of medicine in the United States is a determination that is, in large part, at the discretion of the individual physician. In contrast to many other industries that impact public safety, such as aviation, there are no federal or state laws that specifically mandate an age at which physicians must retire.1 
1 Comment
June 13, 2020
Jeffrey Katz
University of Nevada Las Vegas, VA Southern Nevada
Misrepresenting shortages
As with most articles citing physician shortages, in fact, no such shortage exists. What there is, is maldistribution. There are shortages in areas of the country and in practices that are less desirable. No such shortages exist in Boston, New York, San Diego, etc. It is similar to the fallacious claim that the U.S. has a shortage of "doctors" overall. We don't. We have a ridiculous surplus of specialists, cranking out far more of them than primary care physicians relative to any other country. This is thanks to the post-WWII mentality of paying more to specialists than to primary care providers. I'm not the least bit concerned about anesthesiologist shortages; the higher payment we receive relative to primary care ensures graduates will veer toward the specialty. I am, however, concerned about how those without insurance will be able to afford medical services.
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