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Letter to the Editor: The Spirtual Punches of Emergency Medicine

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000419534.49764.94
Letter to the Editor


Dr. Edwin Leap's column regarding the emergency medicine equivalent of PTSD comes at a time of my career that is particularly relevant. (EMN 2012;34[7]:5; I have just finished my 32nd year of clinical emergency medicine at mostly very busy inner city centers. I am just 59, an age many of my acquaintances find to be unnaturally early to retire. I admit to having had some guilt about the decision as well.

As best as I can describe it, there are three reasons for my retirement at this time. One is just physical and mental skills deterioration. My back, eyesight, and memory are going, and my ability to multitask — a must in our job — is failing more each shift. My second reason is that there are many other adventures besides emergency medicine I wish to experience in this world while I am able. I have met many people who say they should have retired earlier, but rarely one who says he wishes he had kept working longer.

Third, and this was put in words so eloquently by Dr. Leap, is that I think my ability to take any more spiritual punches — dead babies, deaths period, rape, suffering, substance abuse, terminal diagnoses, mental illness, etc. — is nearing the end. I just don't feel like I can do this and then turn on my heel and see the next patient anymore. I will retire very soon to pursue my writing, gardening, photography, travel, and more with my emergency medicine partner and wife Bernie.

George Hossfeld, MD


Dr. Hossfeld is the author of EMN's “You've Been Served” column (

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.