The Doctor’s Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement



In The Doctor’s Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement, Dr. Cory Fawcett addresses two major issues for physicians.

The first issue is the trend towards part-time work, side hustles, and non-traditional careers.  There are more career options for physicians than ever before.  He breaks these options down clearly and simply.

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The second issue is living well in retirement.  As you’ll see in this review, that includes preparing financially during your earning years.  It also includes setting up streams of passive income during your retirement years.

This book by Dr. Fawcett covers career plans for physicians at all stages of life.  It’s a practical and relevant guide for your professional and retirement life.  

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 1: Know Why You Want a Change

I think he starts off with a really intelligent question: “Why do you want a change?”  If you’re seeking career alternatives, is it because you don’t love what you do?  Alternatively, is it because the structure of your work life is intolerable?

Maybe you just need to cut your hours back, change your schedule around, or make a simple change and keep your current job.

He goes through many reasons why people seek alternative careers and addresses each one.  I think he does a good job providing perspective on each potential issue.  In many cases, you may find you don’t actually need a career alternative.  

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 2: What Will You Do If You Retire?

We often think about retirement as a far-off time that we need to plan for.  However, we often fail to consider what that will ultimately look like.

Will you work part-time?  Go on mission trips?  Read?  Start a new business?  Travel more?  

One thing that drives retirees back to work is a loss of identity or purpose.  Maybe there’s a way to keep working in retirement but to do so on your own terms.  He calls this “repurposing your career.”  He exhorts readers to “quit with a purpose.”  What a great call to action!

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapters 3-4: Clinical and Nonclinical Career Alternatives

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In these chapters, he goes into detail about the wide variety of career alternatives available to physicians.  Some of these options include:

  • Locum tenens
  • Becoming a sub-specialist in your field
  • Expert witness work
  • Medical missions and volunteer work
  • Medical informatics
  • Pharmaceutical or health insurance industries

He addresses each one in detail and offers some personal stories from physicians who have taken those options. This is the meat of the alternative careers portion of the book.  

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 5: One Attractive Choice – Assisting in Critical Care Hospitals

He ended his clinical career by gradually cutting back his hours.  Eventually, he started doing work 1-2 weeks a month covering critical-access hospitals in rural America.  This was incredibly rewarding and fulfilled a great need in those areas.  

He’s a big proponent of locum tenens work.  I love his plans for people considering this line of work.  There’s too much great information to list in this short review.  If you’re thinking about the locum tenens route, you should pick up the book just to read this chapter.  

Also, if you want a really detailed walkthrough on succeeding in locum tenens, check out his course, “The Doctors Guide to Thriving in Locum Tenens.”  It’s a phenomenal course that is absolutely worth the investment.   

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 6: The Financial Phases of Your Life

I love how he breaks down your financial life into three major phases:

  • The learning years (training)
  • The earning years (working)
  • The burning years (retirement)

As he discusses, you need a plan to succeed at each stage.  Each stage should also set up the future stages.  He spends most of his time talking about retirement years, since that’s the focus of the book.  

Some tips he offers for succeeding financially during retirement include:

  • Have a budget/spending plan
  • Determine your income (social security, passive income, etc)
  • Consider your rate of withdrawal from IRA and 401(k) accounts
  • Utilize your health savings account wisely
  • Start saving now!!!

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 7: Preparing for Full Retirement

In his book, The Doctor’s Guide to Eliminating Debt, he introduces the idea of a finish line.  What’s your investing end-point?  When do you have “enough”?  

Carrying debt into retirement, including mortgage debt, is a mistake too many physicians make.  Don’t make this mistake!

There are also some changes in your expenses.  For example, you probably don’t need disability insurance or life insurance anymore, assuming you have sufficient investment income to support a spouse if you die.  On the other hand, health insurance and long-term care insurance become bigger budget items.  

Be sure to check out this article for more information on insurance: “You’re doing your insurance wrong.  Here’s what you need!

He also discusses how to know when to take social security benefits.  In general, you’ll make more money if you wait longer to take the money.  However, each situation is different.  

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 8: Making Your Exit 

I hadn’t thought much about this before I read this chapter.  When you exit full-time clinical practice, it affects a lot of people.  For example, your staff and patients need time to figure out how to replace you once you retire.  

You’ll also need to think about what to do about malpractice insurance and selling your practice.  Finally, how will people find you when you retire?  These are important questions that you may not have considered, and he addresses them all.  

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 9: Passive Income During Retirement

Dr. Fawcett argues that it’s important to have streams of passive income during retirement.  This is in addition to the income from your IRA/401(k) investment returns.

His favorite source of passive income is rental real estate.  For the savvy investor, there are many great opportunities.  Paid-for, income-producing real estate offers significant tax benefits and great cash flow.

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 10: Lifestyle Changes in Retirement

What changes will you make?  Dr. Fawcett suggests that you should first take a vacation.  Celebrate this incredible milestone!

Then, create a schedule for yourself.  Don’t allow yourself to wander aimlessly from day to day.  Live with purpose!!

Consider whether you want to travel, buy a new house, or potentially even buy a second home.  Also, consider developing hobbies and spending more time with family.  

Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement Chapter 11: Beyond the Finish Life and Estate Issues

As you consider what to do with your wealth when you die, get the advice of an estate-planning attorney.  Make sure you’re paying attention to the gift tax and estate tax laws (state and federal).  There can be huge tax bills due to your heirs if you don’t pay attention.  

Make sure you have a will and trust in place.  Get these details in place early so that you can relax knowing that all of your planning is complete.  


As always, Dr. Fawcett delivers high-impact value on complex issues.  This is a great read for anyone who wants to plan for retirement.  It’s also highly relevant to people seeking non-traditional medical careers.

In short, it’s a book for all physicians, regardless of age or stage of life!  I highly recommend it!

Buy the book on Amazon by clicking here.


If you like that book, you’ll love these books as well:

If you want to learn more about Dr. Fawcett’s amazing course, “The Doctor’s Guide to Thriving in Locum Tenens,” you definitely need to check out this link!  This course will save you so much time and money by getting you on the right path to your locum tenens work.  

Full disclosure: if you buy the book using any of the links on this page, I’ll earn a small commission from Amazon Associates at no additional cost to you.  I also earn a small commission on your purchase of the online course, again at no additional cost to you.  Your support helps defray the cost of maintaining the site, and I really appreciate it!

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