Urologists generally take economic downturn in stride

December 1, 2011

Even if they didn't do well in the stock market, many focus on their health and enjoy their work.

Urology Times wanted to know how your retirement accounts fared during the stock market descent. We asked urologists whether their retirement plans have been affected by the uncertain market and economy and if they have been making adjustments in their practices to better prepare for retirement down the road. We found that some doctors were harder hit than others, and their practice location may have affected the severity of the impact. Many urologists appear to be taking the economic downturn in stride, focusing instead on their own health and enjoying what they do.

"If I am not going to qualify for Social Security until age 70 or Medicare until age 69, or whatever Congress decides, I may have to work longer than I anticipated. I'm not as worried about the effect of the stock market on my retirement as I am worried about paying for my own health care when I retire and don't qualify under my group's health care anymore."

Dr. Dunshee has been in practice for 17 years. He says a lot will happen between now and the time he retires. "But wondering what it will be like in the future does make you more conservative in your spending today," he said.

Real estate values decimated

"I'm looking at a retirement date now of about 2017," Dr. Fromang said. "It was really the property values that affected me. I planned to sell my office, which is located right next to the hospital. Unfortunately, its value is probably 50% of what it was just a few years ago. We have vacation property in the Bahamas, and it's worth one-third of what it used to be. And family obligations don't just go away because the economy suffered."

Dr. Fromang says that although he's disappointed in the current economic climate, it's not a disaster.

"You have to look at whether you're serving your patients and the community and whether you like what you do," he said.

"I refer big cases to the universities, and I schedule all of my surgeries on Monday, so many of my patients are out of the hospital by the end of the week. We close the office on Friday at noon, so if I don't have any surgeries, I work a three-and-a-half day week. That's a pretty nice schedule."

Dr. Fromang has a general urology practice with a special interest in vasectomy reversal.

"It's a procedure that makes people happy. I have patients I've treated for 30 years; I like what I do, so it's OK. That's not to say that if the property values soar, I won't be ready to retire. I wouldn't mind playing golf more often," he said.