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Dr. Mak Lap Ming, an obstetrician and gynecologist who operated two clinics in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, was contemplating retirement. Now that his own child was financially independent and thus relieved some of the pressure on Mak, he was wondering if it made financial sense to retire soon. He also wondered what the immediate consequences of retirement would be and if semi-retirement was a viable option. To that end, he could work with a partner and shift control to that partner at some point; he could work at his clinics part-time; or he might be able to close one clinic completely and practice out of the remaining one. Mak also thought of retiring completely at the end of the year. Evaluating his options brought Mak significant internal conflict: part of him longed to attain the freedom to travel, yet he experienced great emotional satisfaction when he attended a birth and saw the joy that birth gave to the parents. Mak wondered whether, in his particular case, the pros of retirement outweighed the cons.
This case could be used in courses on service management, managing professional services, or human resource management. The case exposes students to a variety of issues concerning retirement from an occupation — in this case, the medical profession — in which continuity of the server-customer relationship is a key component of quality. Although financial analysis of Mak’s various options is expected, students should also explore the non-financial aspects of his decision.