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December 16, 2022

Retirement. It is overwhelming for many, and Physicians are no exception.

The closer you get to retirement, the more daunting it becomes. Many Physicians find themselves eager to continue their practice even when they attain retirement age.

Whether you are fresh out of residency, established in your mid-career, or moving toward retirement, locum tenens positions can be a great way to continue working and enjoy some long-term benefits. So, if you are  considering early retirement, locum tenens work might be worth exploring. Here is everything you need to know about locum tenens positions and jobs for retired Physicians.

Factors that influence early retirement for Physicians

Physicians often retire from their healthcare careers when they are in their 50s. Although every Physician is unique, there are undeniable trends that have been forecasted within the field. There are a variety of reasons that cause early retirement for Physicians, including: 

High rates of burnout

Physician burnout is common, and its occurrence may differ throughout their career of practicing medicine. More often, the ongoing stress Physicians experience drives them to retire early, whether they work in private practice, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, or another type of Physician job.

According to research by the American Medical Association (AMA), Physicians have to balance meeting the patient's needs while also adhering to the employer's or healthcare administrators’ requirements. Professionals in Neurology, Urology, and Nephrology tend to be the most burned-out.

The spike in reported burnout is, to a large extent, attributed to increased performance measurement (cost, quality, patient experience), loss of control over work, profound inefficiencies in their practicing environment, and increased complexity of medical care – all of which have affected workflows and patient interactions.

The outcome is stressed Physicians, prompting them to retire early or leave the profession. For Physicians who are dedicated to practicing medicine and working in direct patient care, this can be a difficult and life-changing decision.

Specialty choice

Financial preparedness is entirely subjective – meaning that the figure required to decide to retire early depends on your specialty. Still, the average salary for primary care Physicians in the US averages $178,000 per year, while specialists earn an average of $346,000 per year.

Physicians on a higher payroll have an opportunity to save more efficiently and plan better for retirement. A high income also allows Physicians to work fewer years than those who earn less annually.

Length of residency

The length of your residency program influences your retirement. If you experienced a shorter residency as a Physician, you have the opportunity to kick-start your career sooner. This can allow you to start earning a salary and save for retirement earlier in your career.

Lack of work-life balance

After years of going through medical school, residency, and real practice, many Physicians often find themselves stuck to a specific schedule or organization.

While stability in your career is good, it may leave you feeling devoid of options. This can lead to burnout, lowered job satisfaction, or even neglect of one's family.

Retirement rate by specialty

The average Physician's retirement age may be typically older than the general population – and this partly boils down to job satisfaction. For many, it's more of a passion rather than simply a career.

But what is the actual average retirement age for most Physicians based on the specialty? The average Physician may retire anywhere from their late 50s to their early 70s, but this time frame can change based on specialization. Let's look at this in detail:


Radiologists often retire early. Since they have to perform intensive, time-consuming procedures, most Physicians may experience burnout.

The average median income for Radiologists in the US is $431,890, which allows them to save money early and create a good retirement plan – which contributes to your healthcare early retirement.


These specialists go through three years of medical school and five to six years of additional training. The extended learning process plus the highly-involved procedures may lead to burnout. A study by the American Medical Association indicated that 37% of 7000 Gastroenterologists reported burnout.

The average salary for Gastroenterologists is among the highest at $395,200 per year compared to all other medical specialties. With such a hefty income, it is possible to save, make wise investments, and even retire early.


A Cardiologist's job involves long hours spent on specialized procedures. This can lead to burnout and a high possibility of medical professional malpractices.

Cardiologists have high earning potential, with an annual salary of $407,200 per year. The higher the income, the easier it is to make smarter future investments that help early retirement. The average retirement age for Cardiologists is at 66.5 years.

Types of Alternative Jobs for Retired Physicians | How locum tenens can help in semi-retirement

Just because your current position is not fulfilling your personal and professional desires, that does not mean there are no options for you. Many Physicians and healthcare professionals have found new and exciting opportunities for work after retirement that fits their future goals and personal needs.

More and more Physicians are turning to locum tenens positions for several reasons. It is a great option for Physicians at any stage of their career, and it can be even better for Physicians who are nearing retirement as they offer a type of semi-retirement. If you are seeking out options for jobs for retired Physicians, locum tenens work may be the perfect fit for you.

Benefits of locum tenens for Physicians | Why Remaining in Medical May Be a Good Idea

There are many reasons why Physicians are attracted to locum tenens positions, but here are the key perks you should know:

Find balance and avoid burnout

We understand that Radiologists want to know the breakdown of modalities or how many films they are  expected to read. Cardiologists prefer no stress or treadmill tests, and Gastroenterologists want to have the option of opting out of ERCP procedures. Locum tenens will help you find the appropriate schedule, pay, and exact position that fits your medical career goals 

Full-time locum tenens positions provide flexibility to your work schedule, making it possible to create an ideal work-life balance while still making an impact at healthcare facilities. It allows you to be more present at home without worrying about staffing decisions, paperwork, and frequent meetings. By being more present and satisfied with your working conditions, you may find you have more energy and passion for work, personal hobbies, and home life.

Different work settings

The ability to try out something new is compelling for many Physicians. A locum tenens position empowers Physicians to practice medicine the way they want. It offers innovative and flexible solutions, continuous professional development support, and supplementary incomes to enable them to practice at their pace and deliver top-notch care at healthcare facilities. This allows Physicians to improve their skillsets by selecting assignments based on their interests.

Provides flexibility

Among the most apparent advantages of locum tenens is the job's flexibility. In this case, retired Physicians can have more control over their schedule by choosing the assignments they want to take, including locum, permanent, direct-hire, contract-to-hire placement, project-based jobs, and more.

As a locum tenens worker, you can determine the length of your assignment, the location, community, or anything else that benefits your lifestyle and retirement. This flexibility creates more satisfaction at the workplace, preventing burnout in the long run. This can be especially helpful for retired Physicians who want to move at a different pace while still doing what they are passionate about.

Returning to Medical Practice with a purposeful retirement plan

Not only does locum tenens work act as an early retirement incentive for Physicians, but it also helps healthcare practices. These facilities can use locum when they want to increase staff during a busy season or even when a full-time clinician leaves or is on vacation.

If you are  ready to transition from full-time practice but still serve patient needs, Health Carousal Locum Tenens Network may be the right option. As a locum tenens provider, you can practice medicine the way you want. Furthermore, you get flexible solutions, supplementary income, and continuous professional development.

Ready to get started with locum tenens? Health Carousel Locum Tenens subspecialty team can help!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can Physicians do after they retire?

There are many options for retired Physicians  looking to use their skills and medical degree in a new way.  Many retired doctors will work on medical writing and publishing, while others may work in higher education at their alma mater or a major university. There is also the option for locum tenens work for retired Physicians. Locum tenens positions are  a way to customize your work and duties so you can still earn money and practice medicine on a schedule that works for you. 

From locum tenens to volunteer work, there are so many alternative career options for retired Physicians and healthcare professionals.

How can retired Physicians make money?

Locum tenens work is a great way for retired Physicians to earn income while working at a pace that suits their lifestyle. Locum tenens work offers experienced Physicians the chance to customize the length, location, and type of work they want to do. That way, retired Physicians can set their own schedule while still making money.

Is locum tenens helpful for Physicians?

Locum tenens work can be instrumental in getting Physicians closer to their career goals. Locum tenens allows you to customize the location, duration, and type of alternative jobs you want within your field or speciality. Plus, locum tenens agencies can connect you with human resources and experts in your field who can offer professional advice and support throughout your career journey.