I'm Not Retired
On Thanksgiving Day Kirsten Stewart posted a feature article about me on the SL Tribune website (find it here). The article is mostly accurate and, I think, a balanced piece of reporting. In other words, it is an article up to Ms. Stewart's usual standard of excellent reporting.
The one major correction I would make is that I am not retired. It is true that I discontinued providing clinical services to patients almost 20 years ago. I made that change in my professional life in order to accomodate a change my wife was making in her professional life at that time. However, since then I have continued to offer consulting services in public health and environmental medicine to a variety of clients nationwide (from Guam to New York City). Because I am self-employed and married to a remarkably successful professional woman, I am able to arrange my time such that I can spend many hours each week working on health system reform.
Some of the comments made on the Tribune website about the article postulated that I must have enriched myself immensely through the practice of medicine in order to 'retire' by age 57, and thereby would be hypocritically criticizing others who are currently soaking the sick in order to make a profit. That is an unfair criticism based on an inaccurate perception. As noted, I am not retired. Nor did I ever have an income from my clinical career which ever approached six figures. And, for more than 20 years after I graduated from medical training I was paying off student loans.
Another commenter theorized that I must have a handsome pension from the State of Nevada from my years as a public servant there. Also not true. I did not remain the State Health Officer in Nevada long enough to vest in the state's retirement system. I am not qualified to receive any retirement payments from any previous employer. My retirement funds (beyond Social Security) are going to be what I save myself.
Most of the comments made about the article on the SL Trib website were constructive. In general, there is agreement that what we are doing in the US health care system is dysfunctional. Just how dysfunctional can be judged by reviewing the blog postings on this website, where I have been linking to news and other articles around the nation for 2.5 years, documenting the destructive 'business as usual' approach to health care policy and politics, and commenting about the need for real, comprehensive reform.
Dr. Joe Jarvis