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April 4, 2023
May 16, 2023
Healthcare Professionals

Employment for retired Physicians can be overwhelming.

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

Whether you are fresh out of residency, established in your mid-career, or moving toward retirement, locum tenens 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 looking into. Here is everything you need to know about working as a locum tenens doctor through retirement.

Factors that influence early retirement for Physicians

There are several reasons why Physicians in the United States retire from their healthcare careers as they approach their golden years.

High rates of burnout

Physician burnout is common, and its occurrence may differ throughout their career. More often, the ongoing stress Physicians experience drives them to retire early.

According to research by AMA, Physicians have to balance meeting the patient's needs and adhering to the employer's or healthcare group's 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.

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 United States 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 Radiologists may experience burnout.

The average median income for Radiologists in the United States 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's 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 retirement age for Cardiologists is at 66.5 years.

How locum tenens can help in semi-retirement

More and more Physicians in the United States are turning to locum tenens physician jobs in their career path. Locum tenens Physician jobs are a great option for doctors 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 while allowing doctors to continue practicing medicine.

Benefits of locum tenens for Physicians

There are many reasons why Physicians are attracted to locum tenens, 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're expected to read. Cardiologists prefer no stress or treadmill tests, and Gastroenterologists want to have the option of opting out of ERCP procedures. Working locum tenens jobs will help you find the appropriate schedule, pay, and exact position that fits your goals.

Full-time locums Physicians provide flexibility to your work schedule, making it possible to create an ideal work-life balance. It allows them to be more present at home without worrying about staffing decisions, paperwork, and frequent meetings.

Different work settings

The ability to try out something new is compelling for many Physicians. Locum tenens Physician jobs empower doctors 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. This allows Physicians to improve their skill set 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, Physicians can have more control over their schedule by choosing the assignments they want to take, including locum tenens, 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.

Other Advice for Semi-Retired Doctors

Semi-retired doctors have a unique opportunity to practice medicine on a flexible schedule. Becoming a locum tenens Physician is a great way to earn competitive pay while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. But there are other choices available for semi-retired doctors, as well.

Physicians approaching retirement age can consider work as an international volunteer. There are also jobs available in non-clinical settings, like working as a practice consultant, administrator, or taking a teaching position at a local college. You could also consider starting a concierge or boutique practice that sees only a handful of patients.

But for doctors looking to maintain some level of medical practice while reaping the benefits of retirement, there's no substitute for locum tenens.

A purposeful retirement plan

Not only does locum tenens 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.

About HC Locum Tenens and Our Process

If you are ready to transition from full-time practice but still serve patient needs, Health Carousal Locum Network may be the right option. As a locum tenens provider, you can practice medicine the way you want. Our experienced specialty team understands the unique challenges that retired or semi-retired physicians face.

Because of our team’s deep knowledge of medical specialties, we understand what providers like you are looking for. We will make sure that your assignment is the best fit for you, diving deep into the details to find the position you want. Whether it is schedule, pay, or position, Health Carousel will advocate on your behalf and match you with the locums job you want.

Ready to get started with locum tenens? The Health Carousel team can help!


What can Physicians do after retirement?

There are several great options for Pphysicians after retirement, including locum tenens work, consulting, teaching, healthcare administration, and volunteer work.

What other jobs can you do with an MD?

Some alternative careers for medical doctors include pharmaceutical research, public policy and government, consulting, and medical writing.

How can retired doctors make money?

Retired doctors can make money from part-time jobs in locum tenens, consultancy, or telemedicine, among others.