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Retirement

Not Quite Ready to Retire

Walter Gadkowski, an anesthesiologist, left his full-time job and now takes temporary physician assignments several months each year.

Why did you retire? In January 2008 I wrote an e-mail to the staff at the Cape Cod hospital where I had worked for 33 years. I said the fat lady was hitting a high C and it was time for me to leave. I was starting to get tired of night shifts and long hours. Plus I had just turned 65, so retirement was looming in the back of my mind. But then I wondered, What am I going to do now? By coincidence, about an hour later a recruiter called looking for doctors willing to fill temporary positions. And I said okay.

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How much do you work? I put in a total of 13 weeks in 2008 and 14 in 2009. The agency I work with places me in a hospital for a few weeks to give other doctors a vacation or to provide coverage until a vacancy can be filled.

How does temping fit into your retirement? Sometimes the positions are here in Massachusetts, often just a couple of hours away, so I can come home on weekends. I still have time to be a father and a grandfather.

Do you like it? I've had a good time, and I hope I've been doing some good. I also volunteer for the Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps. We train for mobilization in serious events, like 9/11, and we work on other projects, such as aiding flu clinics in the area.

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Any jobs stand out? In March 2007 I spent time in New Orleans working in a clinic because so many of the hospitals were closed. My current positions are a lot like that volunteer work -- except I get paid.

How much are you earning? I make about $1,200 for eight hours of work. My room and board are covered, and malpractice insurance is paid as long as I am working. The money I make postpones dipping into retirement savings.

And when you're not working? I like retiree stuff, too. I am practicing my golf game, I travel with my wife to Florida, and we recently went to India. Maybe when I hit the big "seven-zero" I will want to stop working. Who knows?

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