Dr. Gene Bowles, MD retired from his career as a surgeon in 2017 at the age of 80.  He was the Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Denver Health Medical Center. Dr. Bowles addressed the question of when surgeons should retire.  Or should there be a structured time or process for surgeons to retire?   Should detailed cognitive testing and other such tests be required at a certain age? 

The Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination, however, there are some mandates of retirement for certain professions.  Congress has approved fixed retirement ages for a number of professions that impact public safety.  Those occupations include the following:  

Commercial airline pilot-- 65 years,   Air Traffic Controllers-- 56 years,  FBI agents-- 57  years,  Lighthouse operator  -- 55  years,  National Park Ranger -- 57 years, Federal Judges-- 70  years, Physicians--N/A

According to a John Hopkins study, medical errors are the third leading cause of death.   An American College of Surgeons Statement, dated Jan 2016, offered the following comments:  Surgeons should pursue a life-long approach to wellness. Surgeons experience age-related decline in physical and cognitive skills-varies among individuals. Surgeons many not recognize deterioration in skills. Recommend starting at age 65-70, voluntary & confidential assessment.  Colleagues encouraged to bring forward performance issues.

There is no doubt aging brings with it vast amounts of experience, knowledge and wisdom in the practice of medicine, both non-operative and operative.  It would be extremely beneficial if programs were developed so that aging physicians could be incorporated and utilized throughout the medical community as consultants, mentors and educators with appropriate reimbursement. 

Dr. Bowles briefly shared his extensive humanitarian work over his medical career.  He has traveled to Belize, Mexico, Albania, Cambodia, Kurdistan Iraq, China, Laos and Ethiopia. To hear more about those experiences, we invited him back to present another program. Thanks Dr. Bowles!