What happens when physicians retire early?

Retiring physicians is one factor that has been associated with the decreasing number of practicing physicians, but what is causing physicians to retire in the first place?

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a slight increase in physician retirements, but it is not the only factor. For example, in Doximity's "2021 Physician Compensation Report," 22 percent of physicians reported considering early retirement because of overwork.

As more physicians retire, it will be increasingly difficult for healthcare to keep up with patient demand.

"Patients will have fewer options as physicians will choose to retire earlier or close practices in areas or regions where there is an unfavorable payer mix," Matt Mazurek, MD, assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., told Becker's on July 19.

Employment for physicians and surgeons is projected to grow about 3 percent between 2020 and 2030 — a rate slower than the national average of 8 percent. Some specialities, including anesthesiologists, gastroenterologists, OB-GYNs and general pediatric doctors, are expected to see a job loss of 1 percent to 2 percent.

Although more than 33 percent of physicians who participated in a recent survey expressed a desire to retire in the next year, some may be forced to pump the brakes on their retirement plans as the economy becomes more uncertain.

U.S. inflation hit its highest rate in 40 years in June. The state of the economy also has pushed people older than 55 back into the workforce, and physicians could be among them, according to an April report.

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