Physician Locums July 11, 2023

Jobs for Retired Physicians: Still Want to Practice, But Need a Change?

How do you know when you’re ready to retire from medicine? 

After leaving your full-time practice setting, will you be interested in different jobs for retired physicians—or, do you want to make a switch sooner as a way to transition to your eventual retirement?

Retirement is certainly on the minds of a large portion of physicians practicing in the United States, according to a recent survey.

The 2016 Survey of Physicians 55 and Older, conducted by AMN Healthcare, reported that 42% of the nation’s practicing physicians are 55 or older, based on data from the American Medical Association (AMA).  Yet the percentage of older physicians varies widely by medical specialty.

Percent of physicians 55 or older by specialty+

Source: AMN Healthcare 2016 Survey of Physicians 55 and Older, using data from the AMA Physician Master File.
Retirement plans for physicians aged 55+
The 2016 AMN survey also reported on these physicians’ retirement plans, current working practices, and their intent to pursue jobs for retired doctors on a locum tenens basis.

Highlights of the survey:

  • More than half (52%) of the physicians surveyed expect to retire in 5 years or less
  • 11% planned to retire within a year
  • 15% planned to retire within the next 2-3 years
  • 26% planned to retire within the next 4-5 year
  • 15% currently work part-time (30 hours a week or less), with 85% working 31+ hour
  • 45% identify as employees of a hospital or medical group, while 40% identify as an independent practice owner
  • 64% of physicians 55 and over said that their professional satisfaction has decreased since they started practicing medicine. This trend was more pronounced with physicians 61 and older: 72% in this age group reported greater dissatisfaction.
  • 66% say they intend to work as locum tenens, which offers more flexibility for retired doctors and those nearing retirement.

Now & later: Jobs for retired physicians and those in late career

There are a number of options for doctors looking to stay involved in medicine as they transition from full-time, direct patient care. 

Some examples of the top jobs for retired physicians include:

  • Medical faculty/teaching
  • Community or international volunteer
  • Telemedicine doctor
  • Medical writer/editor
  • Locum tenens physician

Locum tenens:  An alternative for MDs who still want to practice

How many jobs for retired doctors let you continue the work you love—on your terms?

Locum tenens jobs have been around for decades, and have long been pursued by physicians and advanced practitioners who are retired, semi-retired, or considering retirement.


Because locum work allows you to take more control of your schedule and enjoy new working environments when you step away from full-time and/or permanent employment. It can also be a welcome next step after divesting yourself of the responsibilities of private practice.

Many Locums Tenens physicians near retirement will use their new-found freedom and travel options to visit family, pursue adventure or take some much-needed vacation time between assignments

These physicians work with locum tenens staffing agencies like Locum Leaders to complete temporary assignments. They are hired to help alleviate staff shortages when physicians are sick or on sabbatical; during seasonal fluctuations in-patient census; or while a practice or healthcare facility is looking for a permanent physician. 
Locum tenens jobs can be part-time or full-time, and they offer a variety of options for experienced physicians seeking a change of venue (with travel expenses paid), more flexibility, and the chance to help a new patient population that needs their skills.

Connect with an AMN Healthcare recruiter to learn more about the great benefits of working locum tenens jobs. 

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