Stepping into the void after 31 years

iStock_the_Void_000006635563XSmallI have stepped into the void.

After 31 years in private practice, I have graduated.

I have finished my charts at the hospital, changed my status from Active Staff to Honorary Staff, turned in my office parking pass and key card, and carried home the detritus of my career in three cardboard boxes.


It turns out that closing a practice is harder than opening one. The response of so many patients has been most gratifying. For the past month people have been lining up to say goodbye.

The lines have not been long enough to brag about, but it is touching just the same. Many have signed up for a farewell colonoscopy.

Technically one has to change the corporation, amend one’s partnership agreement, arrange for new health insurance, end the malpractice insurance, and in our case terminate the pension plan.

But now it is time to reboot.

Because we have been so busy, our Gap Year plans have suffered from a lack of imagination to date. It turns out that the first six months will be spent doing what we frequently do but for much longer and unencumbered by patient care.

Tomorrow I am going to visit my 92-year-old father for a week. Usually I am there for 48 hours.

Then, after a month of transition we will spend four months on the coast of Maine. I usually spend two to three weeks with some harried long weekends intermixed.

Five weeks of November and December will be spent in Paris. Though we have been many times we are always in and out in seven days.

After that nothing is planned and I hope to come up with something exotic. Time will tell.

It turns out that I have to negotiate with my wife. If this were a real gap year I would be negotiating with my parents.

Which is worse?

When will the Void hit?

Many of my patients say they are so happy to have retired. Others say they went mad and returned to work.

Because I have had a happy and satisfying career; because I plan to do something constructive after my gap year; and because I had a natural break in my career path and life trajectory that made this gap possible, I am optimistic that the Void will be brief.

Here’s hoping.


Editor’s note: Sam has had a distinguished career as a physician. Deets here. – DW

P.S. I think Sam will let me be his editor. We’ll find out…


23 thoughts on “Stepping into the void after 31 years”

  1. A farewell colonoscopy – that is a gift I never considered giving my physician, no matter how much I appreciate her work! Must make a mental note…

    Congratulations Sam – on an impressive career and a terrific family. You deserve to enjoy yourself now. Love to all…. Bets

  2. Do you think I can write a program to just post an “I’m envious” note about every 10 days? And why does Sam need an editor?

  3. I think I’m going to be a follower of this for several reasons. First, I love the idea & the sharing of it in this way.

    No, really, the truly first reason is because you and Debbie got on the phone with me and helped me when my husband was in the hospital last year for his unexpected bypass surgery. I will never ever forget that and although it may not have bonded you to me, it most certainly bonded me to you forever.

    OK, on to several other reasons. My husband Jim & I are business partners and as the two of you ‘negotiate’, wonder whether Debbie can be your editors & work through all those other things that come up as you go along, I can relate to every single one. Being in business with your spouse and best friend (which clearly you two are to each other) will let you dig deeper into yourselves on behalf of the relationship than you ever thought would be possible. Somehow or other our marriage has become stronger and better because of this experience.

    Another reason is that Jim & I are in the same stage of life (kinda the same age group too), so I feel sympatico.

    And another: Books & Voxie Media. I was engaged in Debbie’s process of developing the business name even though at the time I was having trouble understanding what she meant by short books (that seems a long time ago, Debbie!) And furthermore, Jim & I are committed to completing & publishing his book this year.

    I love your plans to date and the rest will emerge from these. Keep writing, Sam.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. I look forward to writing more and more. I will add that Debbie’s edits have been spot on to date. I hope it lasts.

  4. Can’t wait to hear more about the year off, Sam’s transition, and his thoughts on the practice and business of medicine!

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