By Dr Pieter Mourik (Albury Wodonga)
Although most of you reading this are just commencing a career in medicine, I am going to discuss retirement. Unfortunately, most rural doctors that I have known over 40 years in medicine have worked until they have “dropped”. It would have been better for them (and for some of their patients) if they had retired earlier!
A requirement of retirement is planning. To afford to retire while still fit and able, sound financial planning should start early in your career. Fortunately, superannuation is now the key to financial security, as it’s compulsory for employees and advisable for self-funded doctors. Professional advice is essential.
Another requirement is good health. You need to be physically fit when you retire, especially if you plan to travel and do things you never had time or money to do during your career. Keeping fit and healthy when you are young will help you reach retirement age and enjoy it when you get there.
Emotional health in retirement also starts early in your career – business partnerships, marriage and family become very important to provide balance in your life. Sport, hobbies and interests will help you to reduce daily stresses of a demanding job, while providing avenues to pursue as you have more time in retirement.
There is an opportunity to be in ‘transition to retirement’, where you can work part time, assisting surgeons or follow other interests in medicine, such as doing special clinics (I do IVF in Albury), take up a teaching role or do locums, especially for rural doctors.
Locums are a great way to see parts of Australia you may have never experienced. I helped to establish the Specialist Obstetrician Locum Scheme (SOLS) in 2007, for isolated rural obstetricians and this is subsidised by the Federal Government and has been a great success.
From my previous blogs you know that I have enjoyed a rural lifestyle during my career, so before I retired I thought about which hobbies and interests I should develop. Would I improve my golf to give Adam Scott or Robert Allenby a run for their money, or develop my fly fishing skills so I could have a fly fishing coaching business? Dreams maybe, but not practical at my age, ability and interest!
What I chose to do was buy a hundred acres of rundown farming land with the plan of improving it over the next five years. This has kept me motivated, fit, healthy and happy. I travel in the ute with my dog ‘Jack’ and work for 3 or 4 hours a day, getting rid of thistles, blackberry bushes, weedy tussocks and scrub. It has become a haven for my wife, family and friends where we can relax, cook sausages and potatoes on an open fire, sit and chat with a glass of local red wine.
This is what I have chosen to do but other retired friends have hobby farms, vineyards, orchards and flower farms. One entrepreneurial friend has started an octopus aqua farm!
What will you do when you retire?