According to a recent WO Poll, more than 60% of respondents plan on retiring in 10 years or less. The majority of the respondents report feeling that thoughts about retirement cause them no (33%) or slight (42%) levels of anxiety.
71% (135 respondents) have owned or are partners in a practice or business that they’d like to sell at some point. However, more than one in five do not have a plan for transitioning ownership.
DON’T WAIT TO SAVE
Respondents were given the option to leave written responses or thoughts about planning for retirement. Numerous respondents recommended saving what you can and not relying on a “big break” to be able to retire.
- “Don’t depend on selling your practice to fund retirement.”
- “If I never received a dime from my practice sale, I would still be able to retire with a substantial amount in my retirement accounts. My one recommendation is to start saving early and consistently.”
- “My 401K profit sharing program was key in success for retirement. The contributions were taken out of payroll once a monthly for more than 20 years, so it was automatic and relatively painless.”
A MAJOR LIFE SHIFT
One out of four respondents said that thinking about their retirement and/or their transition plan is stressful.
- “It is interest rates that are delaying [my] retirement.”
- “A few years ago, I would have said I’d work much longer.”
- “The stress of the last 2-3 years and changes/challenges to the workforce has caused burnout for me. I would retire today if I could afford to.”
- “Anxiety levels are high, and [there is] lots of decision making to undertake as far as planning ahead.”
- “I am about to turn 65 and have worked 55+ hours a week for decades. My retirement will be working just three days a week. I am struggling with that to do with my patients though. They are upset that I am not taking new patients anymore and they don’t want to wait longer than the three months it takes to get in to see me now. Sigh.”
Many respondents reported wanting to pass the baton and sell their practice either to private equity companies or another OD, rather than close the doors.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO, OR CAN’T, RETIRE?
While some are counting down the days until they can hang up their white coat, others are worried they won’t want to slow down, or that they won’t have the option when the time comes. Some respondents noted a nationwide staff shortage and a shift in priorities.
- “We have such a shortage of staffing and doctors that I am working six days a week most weeks. I haven’t taken a vacation day since Labor Day 2022. I do love working, but some days are tough.”
- “Many younger ODs are not interested in business ownership, and that presents a challenge.”
- “Millennials are not interested in owning a private practice because of the responsibility. They want work/life balance. Baby Boomers are having a hard time selling their practices, especially in San Francisco.”
Others enjoy the routine of a full-time position or the mental exercise of being an owner.
- “If I did retire, I would still be very busy as I have a lot of hobbies, goals, family and friends.”
- “I already sold [my practice] to private equity. Now I am deciding how much I want to work—possibly part time or PRN.”
- “[I am] planning with my husband for an early retirement by age 45 for both of us. We should have saved all we need by then but may choose to work very part-time if it still makes us happy.”
- “I don’t think I will ever fully retire from optometry.”
Half (49.7%) of the 171 respondents were female ODs. Another 44% of the respondents were male ODs, four percent were non-OD females, and three percent of respondents were ODs or non-ODs who chose not to specify their gender.
This WO Poll was also used to compare responses between men and women. Click here to read that story.
Click here to view past WO Polls and results.
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