Children’s Hospital in town. When the pediatricians
found out I was a pediatric neurosurgeon and they
were sending their pediatric neurosurgery cases to
either the University of Florida, Gainesville, or the
University of Alabama, Birmingham—both located
four to five hours away—they begged me to consider
practicing again. And so, I did. But now I could set
the conditions and I worked only Monday through
Friday. Trauma patients were managed at night by
the on-call neurosurgeon, and I took them over in
the morning. This arrangement renewed my love
of neurosurgery—no one to manage but myself,
no committees, just pure pediatric neurosurgery. I
loved it and practiced another eight years in a setting
that allowed room for my new interest, competitive
bridge, and my quest to become a Life Master bridge
player—which I finally did in December 2015, the year
after my second retirement.
Retirement takes different forms for different
people. For me, I re-engaged with the community
via mentoring opportunities, an appointment to
the West Regional Library Board, and a lot of competitive bridge and book clubs. I closed the book on
the neurosurgery portion of my life. Others wish to
remain involved in medicine. Some move to medical
administration, and others find entirely new careers
in medical law or business.
Whatever you choose in the future depends on
setting up your finances so when the day comes that
you don’t want to practice neurosurgery, you can
leave. You don’t have to be that curmudgeon darkening everybody’s day at the hospital because it wasn’t
financially feasible to leave when the desire to practice was no longer there.
My neurosurgical career was a joy. I chose it freely
and would choose it again. I was lucky to train in
good places with supportive faculty and to practice
at a dream children’s hospital with my best friends.
I know I have been lucky professionally, and I hope
you plan well enough to be lucky, too. ♦
1. American College of Surgeons. Women in Surgery
Committee. The Olga M. Jonasson Lecture. Available at:
December 12, 2016.
2. Association of American Medical Colleges, Center for
Workforce Studies. 2014 Physician Specialty Data Book.
Available at: www.aamc.org/download/473260/data/2014p
hysicianspecialtydatabook.pdf. Accessed January 3, 2017.
3. Zuccato JA, Kulkarni AV. The impact of early medical
school surgical exposure on interest in neurosurgery. Can J
Neurol Sci. 2016; 43( 3):410-416.
4. Statement of the American Association of Neurological
Surgeons, American Board of Neurological Surgery,
Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and the Society of
Neurological Surgeons before the Institute of Medicine
on the Subject of Ensuring an Adequate Neurosurgical
Workforce for the 21st Century. December 19, 2012.
Available at: www.cns.org/sites/default/files/legislative/
NeurosurgeryIOMGMEPaper121912.pdf. Accessed January
Whatever you choose in the future depends on setting up your
finances so when the day comes that you don’t want to practice
neurosurgery, you can leave. You don’t have to be that curmudgeon
darkening everybody’s day at the hospital because it wasn’t financially
feasible to leave when the desire to practice was no longer there.