After 31 years in private practice, I have graduated.
I have finished my charts at the hospital, changed my status from Active Staff to Honorary Staff, turned in my office parking pass and key card, and carried home the detritus of my career in three cardboard boxes.
It turns out that closing a practice is harder than opening one. The response of so many patients has been most gratifying. For the past month people have been lining up to say goodbye.
The lines have not been long enough to brag about, but it is touching just the same. Many have signed up for a farewell colonoscopy.
Technically one has to change the corporation, amend one’s partnership agreement, arrange for new health insurance, end the malpractice insurance, and in our case terminate the pension plan.
But now it is time to reboot.
Because we have been so busy, our Gap Year plans have suffered from a lack of imagination to date. It turns out that the first six months will be spent doing what we frequently do but for much longer and unencumbered by patient care.
Tomorrow I am going to visit my 92-year-old father for a week. Usually I am there for 48 hours.
Then, after a month of transition we will spend four months on the coast of Maine. I usually spend two to three weeks with some harried long weekends intermixed.
Five weeks of November and December will be spent in Paris. Though we have been many times we are always in and out in seven days.
After that nothing is planned and I hope to come up with something exotic. Time will tell.
It turns out that I have to negotiate with my wife. If this were a real gap year I would be negotiating with my parents.
Which is worse?
When will the Void hit?
Many of my patients say they are so happy to have retired. Others say they went mad and returned to work.
Because I have had a happy and satisfying career; because I plan to do something constructive after my gap year; and because I had a natural break in my career path and life trajectory that made this gap possible, I am optimistic that the Void will be brief.
Editor’s note: Sam has had a distinguished career as a physician. Deets here. – DW
P.S. I think Sam will let me be his editor. We’ll find out…