Develop a Retirement Policy for Your Radiology Group

July 9, 2013

Radiology practices often have no formal plan for members facing retirement. Here’s what to consider when developing a policy to avoid confusion.

All groups eventually face the prospect of losing long-standing members to retirement. But often there is no plan for how that happens.

Talking about and developing a policy is critical. What’s in it may vary and depend on the practice circumstances. But having no policy and no discussion is asking for confusion and frustration. Sometimes there is not agreement in the practice about these issues, and sometimes there is not a feeling that everyone should be under the same policy. But even knowing that is beneficial in advance of a change.

The bare bones of most such policies includes:

  • a decision about taking call;
  • a decision about remaining a partner versus employee, including compensation and voting;
  • post-retirement compensation or severance;
  • continuing benefits;
  • ownership status (if any), and
  • date of full retirement or duration of part-time status. 

The last is particularly important for hiring decisions and there should be careful consideration about this. What those decisions are is not central. It is that everyone understands and agrees to those decisions. Expectations should be set and then met.

A few further details can be helpful:  

To enter the slow-down period the member or partner might satisfy current requirements that could include: age, years of association or employment, minimum amount of notice prior to change of status.

To continue in pre-retirement status, the member should still meet performance standards. Reiterate standards as to performance for the group, and ensure that all members know the standards apply regardless of term of employment or status. Provide regular performance reviews.  And include a plan for when performance is not met.

To change the plan allow for mutual agreement as long as the member is meeting expectations. If mutual, be willing to be flexible - sometimes part-timers want to work in blocks, not alternating days, for instance, or the group or partner may want to push back or forward the end of their employment. Decide who will act on behalf of the practice or group (whole board, all members/partners, group president).  

To keep everyone on the same page, document changes in status, such as from full- to part-time or part-time to retired. That’s not just for legal reasons, although those could be important. It is also for all those with whom the member has worked - colleagues, nurses, technologists, administrators. Otherwise they may question the reasons for change in status or even be unaware. It’s simply courtesy to do this.

These decisions are often hard. Some may cause frustration or ill-will. But if everyone has input into the plan and policy long in advance you can largely avoid these issues.