Wednesday, 29 February 2012

When should we Stop Working?

NYT: Worry Grows About Aging Doctor

Interesting piece in the New York Times. Although cardiac surgery was not mentioned in the piece, this issue is very relevant when it comes to this specialty. Most cardiac surgical operations are complex and require quick judgment and alertness on the part of the surgeon. There are studies out there that confirm the effect of these qualities on outcomes. In the United States, it strikes me that surgeons do go on operating when they are older and sometimes have to be dragged away kicking and screaming from the operating room! In the United Kingdom, employees of the National Health Service can retire at 60 but can work for longer if they wish. Most retire at 65, which is the age when the state pension kicks in. In the private sector, physicians/surgeons can work forever as far as I can tell (if I am wrong, I stand corrected!) As the world is now broke and pension arrangements are changing, it is now expected that soon people will be working till they are 70 before they can receive a pension. Is this desirable for both parties - the physician or the patient? So, should surgeons who do stressful complex jobs (such as cardiac surgeons or neurosurgeons), be allowed/encouraged to retire on a full pension earlier than say a Dermatologist? (apologies to Skin doctors but I AM RIGHT!) After all policemen and firemen do. Or should they be booted out of the OR and sent down to the wards and clinics to do safer less stressful work?
Answers on a postcard please?