Reflecting on the positives and negatives of retirement, Peter Gloviczki, MD, from the Mayo Clinic, previously in Rochester, Minnesota, now in Scottsdale, Arizona, and editor-in-chief emeritus of the Journal of Vascular Surgery (JVS) regaled attendees of his “Lessons learned: What I wish I would have known before I retired” as part of the Transition to Retirement session on Day 1 of VAM 2023.
The annals of Gloviczki’s clinical practice show a brimming career spanning all areas of vascular surgery—arterial, venous and lymphatic—while having performed over 10,000 surgeries throughout his time with Mayo Clinic. He stood as the past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, American Venous Forum, International Union of Angiology, World Federation of Vascular Societies, Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery, among others. His name is included in 501 peer-reviewed publications, he has authored or co-authored 250 book chapters and eight textbooks, and he has 26,874 citations to his name, plus he has just received an honorary doctorate title at the University of Padua, Italy—the list could continue.
Gloviczki’s presentation detailed his life after retirement, denoting areas of major change in areas such as professional activities, personal life, healthcare, income and residency, describing the tectonic shifts these can bring for a physician accustomed to the busy fluctuations of healthcare. Placing emphasis on loss, he described the lack of access to clinical and patient data, and isolation from a team, be it surgical or research. He added that retirement means a certain detachment from your previous institution, asserting that “emeritus status is not equivalent to being a full member of an institution”.
Looking at the glass half-full however, he paused on the positive changes that occur in your personal life after retirement. Extending a new lease of agency, Gloviczki portended that getting up when you would like and being home for lunch top the list for retirement bliss: “Your home is your castle, cafeteria, lounge, call-room and office.” Although, he ambiguously warned that being home much more may affect relationships with family members, leaving plausible room for the VAM 2023 audiences’ individual interpretation.
Customary to many who have retired from lengthy careers in healthcare, Gloviczki described the procedures, patients, daily team interactions and the distancing from community that is felt. He did, however, caveat this with a reminder that there is “more work inside your house than [one] could have ever imagined” and weight can be gained “fast”—the latter perhaps being dependent on the former. More light-hearted discussions aside, Gloviczki brought awareness to the difficult questions that retirement can pose. What health, dental and eye-glass insurance should you buy? Should you take a lumpsum or monthly installments? What is the best time to start receiving Social Security? These are all among the dilemmas faced by retirees, and as Gloviczki noted with inflation rising and individual retirement account (IRA) decreases of more than 10%, making confident decisions can be a minefield.
Tailoring his final remarks to his personal experience, Gloviczki detailed the tribulations he faced changing residence during retirement. Working full-time in a hospital did not prepare him for the “freezing cold” Minnesota, nor did his prolific involvement in vascular surgery prepare him for “how long it takes to dig a swimming pool” after his definitive retirement and subsequent move to Arizona. He added that to top off the resounding joy that is retirement, “not all animals will make you feel less lonely” throughout—Arizona being home to a generous swath of scorpions and rattlesnakes.