Age is just a number: 100-year-old doc keeps working at Mass General

doctor time efficiency
At 100, Boston doctor keeps on working.

Although he no longer sees patients, at the age of 100, Walter Guralnick, D.M.D., is still at work at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Walter Guralnick
Walter Guralnick, D.M.D.
Guralnick, now chief emeritus of the hospital’s department of oral and maxillofacial surgery, comes to work three days a week, declining to end the medical career he began there 65 years ago.

“I haven’t retired because my interests are the same now as they were 50 years ago,” Guralnick told The Boston Globe. “I’ve always said that if you’re gonna work, you should seek to find something that you enjoy doing, and hopefully at the same time you can do some good for people. Money is not the most important thing. I decry it.’’

Born in Boston in 1916 and the son of a pediatrician, Guralnick spends his time working with the residents in the department he once chaired. And those residents and other colleagues say they are happy to have him on board.  “It’s so enlightening to have him, because even though he’s 100 years old, he’s very au courant. He’s focused on where we need to go,” Maria Troulis, D.M.D., M.D., the department chief, told the newspaper.

While he’s given up driving and now lives in an assisted living facility in Cambridge, Guralnick told the newspaper he is still gifted with what’s been dubbed “Still Syndrome.” It was first described by economist John Kenneth Galbraith who found people often commented to him and other older people that they were ‘still’ working, thinking and enjoying life.

In an age when so many doctors suffer from burnout and can’t wait to end their careers, Guralnick’s not giving retirement a second thought. In fact, he told WCVB in Boston that decades ago he was accepted to Harvard Law School but deferred due to the war and his passion for medicine. But now, he says, he might give it a try.