A question of timely retirement is not unique to the medical profession, but for a lot of doctors, it’s not as simple as hanging up their stethoscope and saying goodbye to colleagues and patients – there are many things to think about.
Whether retirement is on the horizon for you or not, here are some tips to help when you do decide it’s time to move on to the next chapter of your life.
If you have decided to retire, your professional obligations will continue and below are some of the key areas for you to consider.
Let your patients know – If you know the exact date you intend to retire, be proactive and write to your patients. The Medical Board’s Code of Conduct requires you to give advance notice to patients where possible, and facilitate the continuing medical care of your patients, including the transfer of patient records.
Write a letter of transfer for patients who require one, with an up-to-date medication list and investigation results attached.
Let other professionals know – Let any practitioners or hospitals you work with you are retiring, and if you have a successor make sure you introduce them before you leave.
Also, let referring doctors know how they can access patient records after you have retired and advise relevant parties where they should send information and patient reports.
Medical records – Perhaps one of the biggest considerations when retiring is how to store, transfer and destroy medical records appropriately. You will need to ensure that this is done in a secure way, which continues to preserve your patients’ confidentiality. The Medical records - the essentials factsheet will provide you with information you will need.
Closing your practice – Make sure you tie up any loose ends if you are closing your practice. For example, business leases, loans, payment of staff entitlements, superannuation, workers’ compensation, and public liability insurance. Any outstanding Medicare payments owed to other practitioners in the practice will need to be paid.
Partnership agreements can be complicated so it’s best to resolve any issues before you retire. An accountant and solicitor can help.
Items to destroy – If you have excess prescription pads, letterhead and WorkCover certificates with the practice’s address on them, securely destroy these.
In accordance with the legislation in your state or territory arrange for the disposal of any S4 or S8 drugs.
Finally, you should notify:
- Medicare Australia so that provider numbers at a particular location are closed.
- If you work in the ACT, ACT Health
- Any insurer covering the practice and its employees, including the building and contents insurer, and any public liability insurer.
More details on your professional obligations can be found in the Preparing for retirement factsheet or by contacting the Risk Advisory Services team on 1800 128 268.
Insurance beyond your retirement
A claim can be made against you well into your retirement, so having the adequate cover is vital. A run-off cover policy will provide you indemnity for claims arising from incidents yet to be reported that occur between the commencement of your period of insurance with Avant and your retirement date.
You may be eligible for cover under the Australian Government’s Run-off Cover Scheme (ROCS), or you may need to purchase a separate run-off cover policy until you become eligible for ROCS. The team at Avant will be able to help you determine the appropriate policy. Contact us on 1800 128 268.
Alternatively, you may want to maintain your Ahpra registration so that you can continue to write prescriptions and referrals or do intermittent locum work. If you decide to do this your college may insist you keep up with continuing professional points (CPD) and you will need the relevant indemnity policy in place.
Retirement Reward Plan pays members
Retirement it is one of life’s biggest events, and you want to reach it knowing you are financially secure. Did you know each year you pay your insurance premiums to Avant, a retirement nest egg is there for you and will likely grow until you decide to retire?
Thanks to the Avant Retirement Reward Plan (RRP)^, over 47,000* members have an RRP notional balance. Your membership tenure and premiums determine your allocation, along with Avant’s financial performance.
We spoke with member Dr Brindha Shivalingam, who has been with Avant for over 24 years, about RRP. Dr Shivalingam didn’t know what or how RRP worked, or even the fact she had significant balance. “I had no prior knowledge of RRP and what a lovely surprise knowing I have the RRP balance sitting there,” she says.
Though she is not planning to retire any time soon, she says, “I’ve started putting things in place, and the RRP dividend will certainly help with this – maybe even bring it forward.”
“I hadn’t considered how Avant could help with my retirement.”
Even if you’re not yet ready to retire, as you continue to pay your medical indemnity premiums# and Doctors’ Health Fund premium (if you are a member), your balance is likely to grow each year and is shown in your renewal notice and online when you log in on the Avant website.
Video: Retiring well
Webinar: Hanging up your stethoscope
*As of 30 June 2021.
Important:^The Retirement Reward Plan reflects the current policy of the Board for determining which members of Avant are eligible to participate in the Retirement Reward Plan and any Retirement Reward Dividends declared by Avant. The Retirement Reward Plan is entirely at the discretion of the Board and no member will be eligible to receive a Retirement Reward Dividend until such time as the Board declares a dividend in favour of that member. The Retirement Reward Plan is subject to change, suspension or termination by the Board at any time. #Professional indemnity insurance products are issued by Avant Insurance Limited, ABN 82 003 707 471, AFSL 238 765. The information provided here is general advice only. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before deciding to purchase or continuing to hold a policy with us. For full details including the terms, conditions and exclusions that apply, please read and consider the policy wording and/or Product Disclosure Statement, which is available at avant.org.au or by contacting us on 1800 128 268.