Over the next decade, two out of every five practicing US physicians will be over the age of 65, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. It is likely that some of the nation’s clinicians will clearly consider partial retirement within group practice settings.
In an exclusive interview with MDLinx, Anjana Patel, member of the Epstein Becker Green law office in Newark, NJ, shared important perspectives on this subject. She said that group practices should be mindful of partial retirement’s effects on issues such as compensation, governance, and administrative and clinical workloads. She advises incorporating partial retirement considerations into shareholder and operating agreements for physician group practices.
To allow, or forbid, partial retirement?
Group practices first need to decide if they will even permit partial retirements, Patel said, and, if they will, what the necessary eligibility guidelines would be.
“[Some] groups’ mentality is that everybody is equal, and it doesn’t matter if you are a founder or just joined: Basically, everybody works the same [amount], and everybody is compensated the same, and so on,” Patel noted. “From that viewpoint, something like partial retirements may not be something they want to consider.”
However, Patel also said that physician group practices have come to realize they may need to change their mind about partial retirement, considering the significant impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the healthcare workforce. Doximity’s 2021 Physician Compensation Report found that more than 70% of physicians felt overworked during the pandemic, and 21% were considering early retirement.