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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Respiratory Therapy is not a retirement job

Unlike some nursing departments at our hospital, my RT department has a very low turnover rate. In fact, even while I've been around here for ten years, there is still only one full time person under me in seniority, and I've been next in line for a day job for at least eight years.
However much I love working with the sagacious Jane Sage, she told me two years ago that she was going to retire in two years. Recently I called her on this, and she said that she was going to retire in two years.

"Um," I said, "that's what you said two years ago."

"I suppose I could retire, but I think I'd be better off retiring at social security age, which for me is 62."

That would probably work out good for her as far as money is concerned, but the fact that she has bags under her eyes, and the fact that she limped into the room, are not good signs. "I don't want to sound rude," I said, "but you look exhausted. I think you could use a good retirement."

"I'm 60 now," she admitted, "and I could probably retire comfortably now if I wanted to."

"Well, why don't you. I know you are the most sagacious RT in this department, and I don't know how we'd survive without you, but you need to do what's best for your body, and your sanity."

We had this discussion just before I went to Florida, and I was extremely burned out from all the running around I was doing working solo nights. My feet ached. My brain was fried. And I probably looked as bad, at 37, as she did at 60.

I said, "I never thought I'd admit this, but I think I'm finally ready to accept a day job should one come open. I'm really burned out of wording nights. I'm to the point, or to the age, where it's really running me down."

"Yeah, you look pretty beat."

"So you better watch out, Jane. You better watch out every time you step in front of a window and I'm in the same room."

"What are you gonna do," she said, smiling, "push me out?"

"Absolutely, for your good and mine. It's time you retire, and it's time I go to days."

As much as Jane and I love our jobs, I certainly don't think a human being is meant to do this job until they are 60. There's a lot of mental aspects to this job I think a person at 60 can handle just fine, but the physical end is pretty rough on the body. We have to do a lot of walking. It's physically demanding.

Mike is one of my RN co-workers who has told me so many times that he's going to work until he's 72 that I now have no choice but to believe that he's not simply pulling my leg.

"Why don't you set your money aside so you can retire early, like, say, 58 or 60?" I said to him one night.

"Because the government wants me to retire when I'm 72."

"You always do what the government says."


He tried to convince me that there was no way I could afford health care if I retired early. One time I tried to convince him otherwise. The other 20 times I just sat there and smiled.

Jim, the guy I never saw when he worked here because he worked the nights I didn't, told me that he retired from some company like Bell Telephone with an excellent retirement. He told me he got bored in retirement, especially because his wife was still working. So he wanted to get a job where he could go anywhere in the country because his wife had a traveling job, so one of his friends recommended he become an RT.

What the hell was he thinking? How could anyone be bored in retirement? How could anyone want to be an RT as a retirement job?

I used to golf. When I got married I quit golfing because it was expensive and I wanted to save up this money for the benefit of the family. But I told my wife that I am going to start golfing again when I'm 40.

"Why?" she said bluntly.

"Because I need to prepare for my post retirement job."

"Sounds good to me," she said.


Anonymous said...
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icanseeclearlynow said...

"one time i tried to convince him otherwise. the other 20 times i just sat there and smiled."

i like this quote and i like you idea of retiring early.