Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reflections on Retirement: Life After HIM

by Marie Janes, MEd, RHIA, FAHIMA with Mona Burke

Over the course of my many years as an HIM professional, there’s one quote that sums up my outlook and it’s by Groucho Marx. Groucho said, 'There's one thing I always wanted to do before I quit...retire!'  For those who have had their fair share of ups and downs in HIM and are still working in the field, congratulations. One day, you will reach this plateau and deciding to retire is one way to close that chapter of your life.

I wouldn’t be alone thinking that a career in HIM can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding and always interesting. I will be 63 years old this August and learned that the optimum time for me to retire is on the first of the month that follows my 65th birthday, which will be September 1, 2019. This is significant for me, because that date will also be my 47th wedding anniversary!

A good friend and colleague, Mona (Jackson) Burke, agreed to share her experiences related to life after full time employment as an educator in HIT. Mona holds the credentials of RHIA, FAHIMA, and is Emeritus Faculty at BGSU, as well as a Faculty Liaison at the AHIMA. Her retirement date was one year ago in May 2016.

The literature tells us to “prepare” for retirement, but what does that really mean? Financial security? Engaging in hobbies? Providing service to our community? Those sound easy enough, but it’s a more involved process. As Mona shared with me, Retiring was one of the most anxiety provoking, if not the most anxiety provoking experience of my career, really.” She attributes this to changes in pension/retirement plans, number of decisions that are interconnected (changing one may affect another), dependents and their needs, as well as one’s age. Not everyone facing retirement is 65 or older. So, how do you know when it’s right to move on? Self-discovery is a good place to begin.
As HIM professionals, we may feel constrained when it comes to future employment opportunities, but using transferable skills and talents provides new opportunities. Mona shared, “I'd be less than truthful to say I was not worried about finding another position at 54.” Leaving full time employment allows a person to consider flexibility in a schedule, as well as types of work one might enjoy doing. For example, Mona spent a fair portion of this past year during some freelance consulting work including some work for AHIMA, textbook publishing companies, and physician practice settings. Think about what you might want to do, instead of what you have to do.  There is a wide-open field of job prospects within HIM and outside of the profession. And yes, here is where I put in the standard “get a job as a Walmart Greeter!” that I hear all the time!

Mona summed up her experience with her biggest surprise following retirement, “I was amazed to truly find out how much time I had spent working evenings and weekends as an instructor and program director, and how much it had been affecting me. Much more so than I would have ever thought and admitted while I was working full time.” As an educator, I can relate. But even for those of you considering retirement from other HIM careers, it’s good to know that working in health care has done one thing for us more than any other profession—and that is to adapt to change.

If you’d like to share your retirement story, please contact Marie Janes at marie.janes@utoledo.edu.

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