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Organizations aim to help inactive physicians practice again
e-Reports, Feb. 22, 2011
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A pool of physicians could be returned to service to staff volunteer clinics, relieve the physician shortage Untitled document

Pockets of Indiana, especially rural communities, have overworked physicians who need help. If you’re one of these, you will be encouraged to hear about new recommendations to standardize re-entry programs for doctors nationwide.

The AMA estimates approximately 10,000 physicians could return to clinical practice. However, doctors who left practice after an extended period, not resulting from discipline or impairment, may find re-entry challenging.

Because every state has different and often costly requirements, the AMA, the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Academy of Pediatrics have developed recommendations to standardize re-entry programs.

“Easing the re-entry process can help increase the physician workforce and improve access to care for patients,” noted AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, M.D. “These new recommendations are aimed at helping ease a range of challenges physicians can face as they pursue re-entry.”

In Indiana, physicians who have not seen patients over a period of time and have not maintained a medical license must go before the medical licensing board. Requirements are determined on a case-by-case basis, according to Kristen Kelley, director of the Medical Licensing Board (MLB) of Indiana.

While our state does not have a re-entry assessment program, the MLB requires physicians to enroll in one in another state, or find an employer who will arrange retraining. (Find a list of approved assessment programs here.)

“A re-entry program is a discussion we have almost monthly,” commented Kelley. “Programs in other states are very expensive. One is about $15,000. We are considering a program through IU that would be like a mini residency.”

In December, three physicians approached the MLB for re-entry, mostly to activate licensure for volunteer purposes. The board asked two of them to create a supervisory plan of action.

“Right now, there isn’t a good system in place,” said Kelley. “The AMA recommendations are very timely.”

The AMA suggests re-entry guidelines:

  • Be consistent and evidence-based
  • Specify the length of time away from practice that would require participation in a re-entry program
  • Define how much clinical care constitutes active practice
  • Permit re-entering physicians to engage in clinical practice under supervision, as they participate in a re-entry program
  • Consider an accreditation process that includes a review of program outcomes
  • Address funding to support a national physician re-entry system

Find details on the AMA website.

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