As physicians, we embark on a lifelong journey dedicated to healing and caring for others. After years of practicing medicine, it is natural for Pre-Retirement Physicians to ponder the idea of slowing down as retirement approaches. 

While the thought of stepping away from a career that defines us may be daunting, there exists a perfect opportunity for physicians in pre-retirement to embrace a role that allows for a more relaxed pace without sacrificing fulfillment. Let us explore the ideal job for a physician seeking a transition that nurtures their passion while fostering a healthier work-life balance.

A Mentorship Role

One path that perfectly aligns with the values and expertise of a physician in pre-retirement is mentorship. Sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience gained throughout one's medical career can be profoundly rewarding. Becoming a mentor allows us to guide and shape the next generation of medical professionals, imparting not only clinical skills but also the invaluable wisdom gained from years of patient care. This role fosters a sense of purpose and gives physicians an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the future of healthcare.

While mentorship is generally a non-compensated role, it can develop into paid coaching or consulting. To make the transition, formal coaching training, and certification may be worth the investment of time and money, but may not be necessary. Starting a formal consulting company will usually require some basic accounting and legal help to get started, but otherwise is fairly straightforward,

Academic Positions

For those inclined toward a more intellectually stimulating environment, pursuing academic positions can be an excellent option. Transitioning into teaching roles within medical schools or universities offers an opportunity to engage with eager minds, contribute to research, and shape the future of medicine through education. 

Such positions may involve teaching medical students, supervising residents, or conducting research, allowing physicians to maintain a connection to the medical field while embracing a slower pace.

Locum Tenens or Part-time Work

Another viable option for pre-retirement physicians seeking a more flexible schedule is exploring locum tenens or part-time work. Locum tenens positions offer the freedom to work temporary assignments in various healthcare settings, providing an opportunity to explore different practice environments and locations. 

This flexibility allows physicians to select assignments that align with their preferences and availability, granting them the freedom to take time off for personal pursuits or travel. And those doing locums work in hospitals do not need to get involved with hospital politics or participate in committee and department meetings.

Nonclinical Roles

Transitioning into nonclinical roles can be an intriguing avenue for physicians seeking a change. Pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, communication companies, and healthcare consulting firms often seek the expertise of seasoned physicians to guide their strategies and ensure a patient-centered approach. These roles allow pre-retirement physicians to utilize their medical knowledge and experience in a different capacity while embracing a slower-paced work environment.

Community Service and Volunteer Work

Many physicians enter the medical field driven by a desire to serve their communities. Pre-retirement can be an opportune time to delve deeper into community service and volunteer work. Organizations such as free clinics, humanitarian aid groups, or medical missions offer avenues for physicians to utilize their skills while making a difference in underserved populations. 

There are also opportunities to serve on public health boards, and healthcare-related boards such as those for hospice provider organizations, hospitals, and other nonprofits. Engaging in such endeavors allows physicians to reconnect with their initial motivations for entering the medical profession and find renewed fulfillment in serving others. And these unpaid positions may serve as a segue into compensated positions.


The transition from a demanding medical career to a more relaxed pace in pre-retirement can be a fulfilling journey for a physician. Whether it's embracing a mentorship role, pursuing academic positions, exploring locum tenens or part-time work, venturing into nonclinical roles, or engaging in community service and volunteer work, there are various options available to match individual preferences and goals. 

By leveraging our expertise and experience, we can continue to contribute to the medical field while prioritizing our own well-being and achieving a healthier work-life balance. Embrace this transition as an opportunity to discover new paths, nurture your passion, and create a meaningful impact beyond the confines of clinical practice.

Other resources:

Why You Must Dare to Discover Your Purpose When You Retire (podcast episode)

How to Go from Retirement to Ardent CMO and Medical Expert (podcast episode)

How to Find Nonclinical Opportunities in Retirement (podcast episode)