After extended leaves, doctors must convince medical boards to reissue their licenses, hospitals to grant admitting privileges and malpractice insurers to provide coverage. Only a handful of programs around the country are set up to help physicians brush up on their skills, and they can cost doctors thousands of dollars. Medical schools seem to do a fantastic job graduating brand new medical students, but what about people who have already graduated and need to get some retraining? There is clearly a lack of those kind of training programs. Policymakers and professional organizations are pushing to make the process less burdensome and costly – in part because it may help ease shortages of doctors.Getting experienced doctors to dust off their white coats seems cheaper than starting from scratch.
After taking a 10-year break from practicing medicine to raise four sons, Kate Gibson was ready to go back to work. The family practitioner had been reading about a shortage of primary care doctors and knew she could help. But when Gibson, 51, applied to work at her former hospital near Los Angeles, she was turned away. She’d been out of clinical practice too long. Like many professionals, physicians take time off to raise children, care for sick family members or to recover from their own illnesses. Some want to return from retirement or switch from non-clinical jobs back to seeing patients. But picking up where they left off is more difficult in medicine than in most careers. In medicine, change occurs quickly. Drugs, devices and surgical techniques that were standard a decade ago may now be obsolete. Or a returning doctor’s skills may simply be rusty.
The Federation of State Medical Boards wants states to create a standard process for physicians to show they have the skills to return to medicine. It is asking licensing agencies to track whether doctors are still practicing and whether it is in their area of training. Several retraining programs are run by hospitals, including Cedars Sinai Medical Center. There, participants spend between six weeks and three months seeing patients under the supervision of other physicians, then discuss their cases in an exit interview to demonstrate what they’ve learned. They leave with a letter that can be submitted to employers or hospitals. The Cedars program costs $5,000 a month. Leo A. Gordon, who runs it, said some doctors who call to inquire are angry about having to spend the time and money when they already have so much education and experience. But he said others are simply appreciative that “there is a way to get back in the game.”
Hospitals set their own requirements for doctors to get credentials and privileges, but doctors who have been out of practice for more than two years generally must show that they are competent to see patients. Having a certificate from a reentry program helps but the final say relies on the employer.
Careers are interrupted or derailed for various reasons and every state has their own requirements for reinstating experience. Luckily, because of the recent physician shortage we are going to start to see more and more programs for physicians to take after extended leave of absence.
Check out the link below to find all the current and accredited Physician retraining programs.