A growing cadre of senior psychiatrists with a wealth of knowledge about their profession has ambitious plans to keep on giving by sharing their decades of experience with younger colleagues and by helping other senior psychiatrists navigate unique challenges as they and their practices age.
PRMS recently pledged its support for Senior Psychiatrists, Inc. headed by President Nada Stotland, MD, MPH, a professor of Psychiatry and Obstetrics/Gynecology at Rush Medical College in Chicago. Dr. Stotland served as President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) from 2008 to 2009.
Senior psychiatrists face a myriad of challenges and opportunities. How long should they keep practicing? What happens if the psychiatrist suddenly dies or falls ill, leaving an office manager or widower to face a waiting room full of patients the next morning? Should the senior psychiatrist move and work in a warmer climate to be closer to their children? And what hobbies or other occupations might they enjoy if they worked fewer hours?
“We want to celebrate being seniors and colleagues and give people the opportunity to network and get answers,” said Stotland, adding that other important issues include estate planning, how much money it takes to retire, and whether to keep working or not.
Stotland, who has been a psychiatrist for 51 years, said she wrestles with many of these issues herself. She has decided to let her private practice numbers go down by attrition. Today, she has just a few patients and has contemplated whether to renew her license.
“The thought of not being a licensed doctor after being one for more than 50 years is not easy to contemplate,” Stotland said. “It’s something you can understand intellectually when you are 45 years old, but it’s not the same as really looking it in the face and having people saying, ‘What are you and what do you do?’ and answering, ‘I am retired. I am not a doctor anymore.’ ”
Annual dues are good for a year and are just $50. The organization publishes an e-magazine featuring psychiatry-related topics as well as news about travel and general information about career transitions. It also offers programs and a free reception at the APA Annual Meeting. Previous topics have focused on practicing into your 80s, as well as a session on the existential and psychological challenges of becoming a senior and how to decide when to close your practice.
Melanie Smith, Senior Vice President of Client Relations for PRMS, said the company is delighted to lend its support. “The Senior Psychiatrists have a belief in – and a commitment to – the importance of what they are doing and we are excited about being of service to this valuable organization,” Smith said. “And we know many senior psychiatrists will want to join and benefit from the Senior Psychiatrists’ work and collegiality.”
According to Troy, the group has a couple hundred members and the potential to expand membership, thanks in part to PRMS support. “PRMS is a new sponsor,” Troy said. “Their support is absolutely huge and we very much appreciate it.”
A big focus will be on setting up a mentoring program and raising visibility with a reception at the APA meeting. Mentoring to younger generations is also an eventual goal of the group. As seniors are an ideal resource for all doctors, their experiences are particularly informative for younger doctors. Member’s willingness to share experiences (“what I wish I had known then”) and professional expertise with newer psychiatrists will be a big focus.
“There’s a tremendous need among younger doctors to connect with experienced psychiatrists,” Troy explained. “I think sometimes residents know a lot about psychiatry, but the practical side of running a practice is not something that is taught that often. And that’s where the seniors can be a big help.”
The organization’s events during the Annual Meeting are open to all APA Life Member attendees, as well as district branch executives and presidents. There will be two Senior Psychiatrists-sponsored workshops at the APA Annual Meeting in Atlanta. Here is a brief overview:
“The Aging Physician: Possibilities and Perils” on Sunday, May 15, 2016, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Presented by Glen Gabbard, MD.
Recent surveys indicate that late-career physicians, compared to those early or mid-career, are generally the most satisfied. But the profound gratification medicine offers can make aging a challenge. Many doctors trying to slow down or retire may equate retirement with losing one’s sense of purpose and self-image. Physicians frequently struggle with aging gracefully. In this session, the difficulties and gratification of the “golden years” will be discussed.
“Acknowledging and Accommodating Age and Ability” on Monday, May 16, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Presented by a panel including Paul Wick, MD, the founding president of Senior Psychiatrists, Norman Clemens, MD, Sheila Gray, MD and Nada Stotland, MD.
Many senior physicians practice medicine safely and effectively but there is a pivotal point where age and competence intersect. Presenters will explore ways physicians and health care organizations may anticipate and prepare for late-career transitions that promote wellbeing and avoid unprofessional manifestations. Panelists will discuss planning for retirement in a way that maintains integrity and promotes mental health.
“We welcome suggestions and we welcome questions,” Stotland said. “And if someone wants to help with mentoring, we are certainly happy to hear from volunteers who would like to take part in our program to help mentor residents and medical students.”
The Annual Business Meeting is going to held on May 17, 2016, at 7:30 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis International Level – Room 1. The Annual Reception and Awards Presentation will also be held on May 17, 2016, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., at the Marriott Marquis on the International Level. All APA Life Members are invited to attend both events. To pre-register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.