How to Wind Down your Medical Practice in Saskatchewan
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long in advance must I plan my retirement?
It is never too early to plan for your retirement, and should be planned to coincide with the expiration of your office lease, if applicable. You should seek advice regarding financial planning and taxation early to ensure that all future actions taken and decisions made are in your best interest and there will be no surprises. All legal documents should be reviewed regularly over the course of time and especially as situational changes arise (e.g. new association or partnership, change of venue, etc.).
2. What are my obligations to my staff when I retire?
Staff must be given a minimum level of notice according to the Labour Standards set by the Department of Labour. It is recommended that notice be given that is in excess of that mandated by Labour Standards. If a new Physician is taking over the practice, the retiring Physician is advised to terminate the employment of staff and, if the new Physician so chooses, s/he can immediately rehire the staff. The new physician should be advised that employees rehired in this manner will retain vacation and other employment rights.
3. What other contractual obligations must I review when planning my retirement?
Other contractual obligations to review would include office and equipment leases, partnership or associate agreements, financial obligations for loans, shareholder buy/sell agreements, etc.
4. Who else should be notified of my retirement?
Notification should also be provided to: colleagues, physicians in your on-call group, nursing homes, hospitals, health regions or authorities, pharmacies, allied health care providers, the SMA, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), etc.
5. What are the options for storing my charts?
According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan:
A member who ceases to practice shall:
(i) transfer the records to a member with the same address and telephone numbers; or
(ii) transfer the records to: 1) another member practicing in the locality, or 2) a medical records department of a health care facility, or 3) a secure storage area with a person designated to allow physicians and patients reasonable access to the records, after publication of a newspaper advertisement indicating when the transfer will take place.
6. Is selling my practice a viable option?
Selling goodwill in a practice is only a viable option in an over-serviced area where physicians must compete for patients. In most cases, only the tangible assets have value. Careful attention must be given to the allocation of the purchase price between goodwill and hard assets. It is very important that physicians seek advice on the tax implications that follow the sale of a practice. Seek legal and tax advice before finalizing.
When a physician is part of a group practice and decides to retire, he often has the option of transferring his patients to the remaining partners. When in a solo practice, physicians are faced with recruiting a physician to assume their practice. Physicians need to be informed of options for recruiting such as: advertising in the SMA News, other medical journals and contacting the recruiting officers in their health regions. If a physician cannot find a replacement, they may simply close their practice. There are no repercussions from the College of Physicians and Surgeons for a physician in this circumstance. Out of courtesy, it is suggested that you provide your existing patients with notification of impending closure.
7. What are my obligations if another physician is taking over my practice?
A Physician taking over a practice should be properly introduced to patients, colleagues and the medical community via a letter of introduction. This will ensure a smooth transition for both the departing Physician and the assuming Physician.
8. If I am in group practice, what are the group’s obligations when I retire?
The group's obligations will depend on the wording of the agreements in place. Seek professional advice in this regard especially if no agreements or contracts exist among members of the group.