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When can I finally retire? Doctors, where did all your money go?

Besides hearing that physicians and healthcare practitioners are always looking for the latest and greatest ways to treat their patients, one of the other things we constantly hear is the need for how to thrive in this crazy healthcare market.

Doctors no longer retire at the same age and with the same financial status that they used to. We hear from doctors that going to medical school no longer has the same luster it used to and that some actually discourage their own children from doing so. Why, if it is such a noble cause? Well, they tell us it is due to all of the financial burden/loans they can incur as well as the fact that they are not able to make up the difference after graduating like they used to with the new insurance reimbursement decreases and regulatory changes. Many argue it is not worth the liability.

A recent article was brought to our attention about an orthopedic surgeon, which hits very close to home as a lot of our members and attendees are also in the orthopedic field. This surgeon whose practice is in Tennessee had always planned to retire at 70 years old.1

In fact, a recent MDLinx survey shows that most physicians plan to retire between the ages of 65 and 70 but the majority do not have enough money saved up to maintain their lifestyle. According to this physician, most doctors choose 65-70 as retirement age because this is the age they begin to lose the steadiness in their hands or when their backs begin to get sore.

At 66, Dr. Deborah St. Clair says she is “barely hanging on” to her career and trying to save as many pennies as she can to retire. She does not believe she will be able to carry on past one more year and she fears that her “early” retirement based on her original date of 70 will end up costing her. She has only gotten to about half the savings she wishes she had achieved before having to retire from her practice.

It was a short 10 years ago that Dr. St. Clair’s practice was flourishing. She is now losing money and feels lucky to get 20 hours a week in the office. The small rural town where she lives has less than 17,000 residents which is not yielding as many patients as she was used to seeing. Unfortunately, although this rural location may differ from other doctors located elsewhere, what does add to the negative change is true for all healthcare practitioners: the changes in insurance and the regulatory issues.

The local hospital near Dr. St. Clair has had to dramatically increase its rates and has been forced to make patient stays shorter. The higher rates have caused patients with catastrophic coverage or high co-payments to have to avoid the hospital completely.

Physicians are said to have an average student debt load of $183,000, and certified financial planner Anthony Criscuolo at Palisades Hudson Financial Group explains that some physicians “get a much later start” than other professionals when trying to save for their retirement because “many of them are dealing with crippling debt when they’re fresh out of medical school.” As mentioned above, doctors are also getting squeezed by insurance reimbursement rates so they are not maintaining the incomes they expected to maintain as they approach their retirement age. “They’re really getting it at both ends,” Criscuolo explains.

Fidelity Investments studied 360 physicians and nearly half said that they can’t afford to contribute the maximum to their retirement plans at work. This article explains a lot more about reaching the right retirement savings goals as a physician, taking into account things like selling your practice and what a physician can do for financial security. All of this is very scary as we tend to think being a doctor is an amazing thing.

In an effort to keep potential doctors from getting discouraged or keeping our current doctors treating patients and doing their best, we have input some great time and energy into our new Practice Enhancement Training (PET) modules. PET was designed to help you as a healthcare practitioner “Optimize your Income” and “Exceeding your Patient’s Expectations”. PET’s goals are to help you BEFORE retirement.

If you are interested in how you can start enhancing you practice today, sign up for the next LIVE PET course in December at our 25th Annual World Congress!

1MDLinx Internal Medicine. Mindy Ligos. Managing Your Money. Real Stories from Real Doctors. Part 3-Where did all the money go? Prepping for retirement. https://www.mdlinx.com/internal-medicine/article/1152. September 2017. Accessed October 11, 2017.

Weight Loss

Many of our patients who don’t usually partake in the practice of medicine other than their regularly required annual physician visits, would be appalled to learn the truth about the lack of nutrition training in medical school.

Our A4M fellows and faculty assure us every day that most traditional physicians practicing medicine in our country today are not given ample time or training on nutrition during their many years as students.

Globally, studies indicate that more than two billion adults and children across the globe are overweight or obese, and suffer from related health problems. This number equates to one-third of the world’s population.

The saddest part about this topic is that our own country is suffering from an obesity epidemic where more than one in three U.S. adults and one in six children (ages 2-19) are obese; this data includes that one in 11 young children (ages 2-5) are obese.1

Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death and as physicians, we would be lying if we did not say these numbers do not reflect in our practices.

How many obese patients do you see? How many of your patients are overweight?

Do you feel fully equipped to discuss eating, diets, and exercise with them?

We know from experience that this is not an easy topic. Harvard Medical School published an article on habits to encourage weight loss that we have shared with our community. It brings to light the fact that “eating healthier” is not so much the mystery here; it is more the changing of a person’s everyday habits that make them able to combat being overweight.

Eating slower, consuming more even-sized meals and making the time to prepare healthier meals while at home were among the likely habit-changing suggestions in this article2. A daily weigh-in on a digital scale was suggested as more effective than calorie tracking since evidence of weight loss on an actual scale proved to remove weight and keep it off. But the most surprising habit listed was regarding sleep.

Sleep, another topic we have covered in our education at A4M was classified as a habit tied to weight loss. Studies show that the shorter time someone sleeps, the more at risk they are to becoming obese or overweight. Recent articles suggest that these people are up eating…and those same people who are up and eating, are not eating kale and nuts. They are eating the things that hurt like ice cream, chips, and cookies.

If you want to learn more about fighting weight and helping your overweight patients with their related health issues, we can help. We will provide you with proven clinical strategies that can be used to optimize your patients’ health and provide diagnostic, preventive, and therapeutic interventions. Visit us this December at our 25th Annual World Congress and get actively involved in fighting this epidemic and ultimately changing your patients’ lives.

1National Center for Health Statistics. NCHS Fact Sheet: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/factsheets/factsheet_nhanes.pdf. January 2016. Accessed October 4, 2017.
2Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. 5 Habits that Foster Weight Loss. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/5-habits-that-foster-weight-loss? February 2017. Accessed October 4, 2017.

No More Pricks: Trading blood tests for tear tests?

Here at A4M, we are all about moving forward into the future of medical care. How many years have we been drawing blood to detect health and nutritional deficiencies in our makeup?
Too many.

We are actually starting to see that this may now change. We may have figured out that we may not need to be pricked by a needle to get tested.
A study now suggests that tears could be considered an alternate source of diagnostic fluid for testing for nutritional deficiencies.

Researchers from Michigan Technological University in partnership with UP Health System -Portage in Michigan have determined that tears are not only easier to produce than blood, but tears are also easier to work with when analyzing as a fluid.

Maryam Khaksari, study author and research specialist at Michigan Tech, said studies show that people with nutritional deficiencies blink more than those without deficiencies. “We hypothesized that nutrients are transferred to the living cells of your cornea through your tears,” Khaksari said. “We would like to translate the information we have for blood to tears. In this paper, we did show that there are correlations between vitamin concentrations in tears and blood – so it’s possible.”

The researchers involved in this study retrieved samples of both tears and blood from 15 different families that each had a four-month-old child. The samples taken from a child and a parent were then compared between tears and blood, infants and their parents, and against self-reported dietary intakes.

Multiple vitamins were all detected in both the tears and blood, and although Vitamin A was only found in the blood samples, researchers claim this is only the beginning. This project is the first step which proved vitamins are detectable in tears, and that they do correlate with blood levels. “Our goal was to seek the viability of establishing measurable vitamin concentrations in tears for nutritional assessments,” Khaksari said. “Your body cannot manufacture vitamins, and vitamins reflect available food sources in your body. That’s what makes them good indicators of nutritional health.”

We fully understand that this is only the start of the discussion regarding the trade of blood for tears, but we are very excited to follow this research and report back to all of our followers that there may be a day where we don’t have to have a needle draw blood to determine everything!