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How to retain the rewards of engaging with others when retirement moves life beyond the consulting room

Retirement embraces all practitioners at some time in the course of their careers, provided they are spared “dying in harness”. For those in salaried service, her blandishments may entice quite early. Those whose discipline has been less than absorbing may court her openly from the first opportunity. Those whose professional involvement has been passionate and requited may yield reluctantly as mental and physical acuity gradually falters. Peers and patients sound the tocsin. Skills requiring long hours of dexterity are increasingly scrutinised with the passage of the years. Doctors who continue to practise despite advancing age and dwindling clinical intelligence survive largely on trust and wisdom gained through experience, fortified by the inertia engendered by loyal patient patronage. But they too will eventually totter or be gently pushed into her arms.

Depending on their preparedness, health and agility, retirees can choose one of many different pathways to cope with the marked change that retirement from medical practice entails. Each has the backdrop of a life spent in service bringing gratitude, satisfaction, stimulation and even love. These rewards are not abandoned lightly.

There are ways to maintain the redolence of this lifestyle. As a physician accustomed to an uninterrupted hour with…