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Lead Us Not Into Careerism

Imagine, highly skilled professionals who bless hundreds of people each year with refined expertise. Then, upon reaching a particular age or financial status, they simply withdrawal from service all this proficiency. I call this careerism. What a tragic loss for those served, and often for the professionals, themselves. Some persons, of course, must retire for circumstances that limit their capacity. But otherwise, Lead us not into careerism, but deliver us from evil. Is evil too strong a term? Perhaps, but please hear me out…


For physicians, the most commonly cited rationales for retirement are not age or wealth, but rather burnout, lost sense of autonomy, and psychological stress. But then, retired physician often struggle badly over loss of identity and loss of their relationships with peers and patients.


Let me propose an alternative to traditional retirement: Refocus. Apply your expertise, financial resources, and healthy life years to maximally benefit the world’s poor. One-quarter of all INMED learners are middle age professionals doing exactly this. I often hear them express, “It’s finally time for me to do what I’ve always wanted to do: Serve people who are most disadvantaged.” Such career refocus is not without psychological stress. But it’s usually accompanied by profound satisfaction.


Ted Higgins refocused. A mature, highly successful general and vascular surgeon in Kansas City, Ted established Higgins Brothers Surgicenter of Hope in Haiti. Says Higgins, “We are not only helping Haitians, but by helping train Haitian physicians and employing top quality Haitian surgeons on our Surgicenter staff, we will sustain this level of care for a long time.”


Dr. Higgins refocused his skill, wealth, and health towards a mission of deep significance. You can, too. And for those south of retirement age, dream big as you proceed toward a point when you, too, may refocus your career, praying along the way, Lead us not into careerism, but deliver us into a great endeavor.

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