Last updated September 2013.

“Retirement Planning?”

Ginger requested a two page story, deadline September 2013, for the Life Members Newsletter. She said “You had such an interesting life!”

The trouble is I am not planning my retirement, much of my life happened without much planning, but I do know what I like and not like.

So... at this time, forty years after finishing Child Fellowship training, and forty years of private practice at the same address I still work, albeit part time. Twenty hours a week, not “in network” of commercial insurances, not doing “med checks” only. I treat children with Medicaid, some privately insured adults, seniors on Medicare.

Those activities are spent in my office, five minutes from the local hospital, a good place for a lunch break and a chat with colleagues. This hospital does not have a child unit, but a very busy Emergency Department, with a competent child psychiatrist, one of my sources for referrals, as are the numerous crisis teams in the county.

One day a week I travel thirty miles to New York, where I supervise two Fellows doing psychotherapy in the outpatient clinic. A bonus for me are the grand rounds in this Academic institute, I can attend, between the two sessions with my supervisees.

Another of my interests has been Advocacy. Yes, I retired, after ten years of being the Chair of the Legislative Action Committee of the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, to just being another member, feeling proud to see a marvelous, energetic, young colleague taking over! We did seven Advocacy Days in NJ, the last three were combined with New Jersey Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. At the state level I continue on the Council of Legislation of the Medical Society, mainly on Scope of Practice issues; on the county level of the society to be there as a psychiatrist.

Two other retirements happened, these I admit, I did plan. Six years on the Board of the County Mental Health and seven on that of the State Organization. It seemed a good way linking with these organizations, appreciating what they accomplished with the severely mentally ill. We did things together, Wellness Walks, lobbying or debating issues, not always agreeing, but the time was right, we had learned enough from each other.

In 1999, when the Red Cross discovered that mental health was an issue in their mission, a two day training was offered to psychiatrists. Nineteen of us attended and were advised to get involved with a local Chapter. It is and has been another way to use your skills, satisfying work in shelters, floods, fires continuously happening locally, and possibilities of going to out of state events, when one can afford a two week involvement. I have been at work in New Orleans, after Katrina, where the First Responders were temporarily housed in two Cruise ships, moored on the Mississippi. Five hundred children, with their families, working parents, grandparents as well. Two children’s play rooms, two ships with all the room of a village to them, we were the two “Child Teams” responsible for the day, interacting with and in all kinds of encounters with all these generations.

Since I have three weekdays free in my retired life, gardening has provided the challenges, physical workouts, bug bites and the joy of seasons. Plants and discovering their need is as much of a search for the right combination of elements.

My personal timeline includes an adolescence during a war, interrupting family and education. This was followed by displacement, traveling on a troop transport ship halfway around the world, landing in Europe in a temperate climate for this sixteen year old from the tropics. A year of delight, hard study, the schools were open, snow, ice, falling while trying to stay upright on skates! Exams, entry into Medical School, internships… graduating, and marriage, emigration, children, moves as a family, full time. After ten years an attempt to return to my other profession: Medicine.

More exams, another, transitional internship, psychiatry residency, a chance event leading to Child Fellowship and at last becoming a Child Psychiatrist!

AACAP has been a family to me, the numerous trips to Mexico, China, Spain, Russia, Kenya, Brazil, South Africa, South East Asia, Greece, have not only been discoveries of other countries, but also of each other.

As this time we, in New Jersey, form another sort of family. My home, located centrally has remained to be the venue for meeting of the officers of NJCCAP, every two months the meeting takes place, plans for the coming years are discussed, ideas are created. Everyone is familiar with the place, the kitchen is the first gathering place, finding members catching up with the latest personal news. We try to bring ECPs in the fold.

Life has been good and is good now, my reason to not do any Retirement Planning, I hope to just let Life continue for now, sorry No Plans for Retirement available.

Anna vanderSchraaf, M.D. DLFAACAP