With an eye towards the nation’s growing physician shortage, the American Medical Association is calling for a streamlined and standardized reentry process for physicians who want to return to medicine after an extended absence.
“About 10,000 physicians could re-enter clinical practice in the U.S. each year,” said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD. “Easing the reentry process can help increase the physician workforce and improve access to care for patients. These new recommendations are aimed at helping ease a range of challenges physicians can face as they pursue re-entry.”
The recommendations are designed for physicians who want to return to clinical practice in the same capacity they have been trained and certified following an extended period of time away, not resulting from discipline or impairment issues. Physicians take voluntary leaves of absence from clinical practice for many reasons, such as child rearing, personal or family health issues, and academic leave, AMA said.
Every state has different requirements for reentry, and barriers include high costs and limited information and resources. Reentry programs lack standardized curricula and an officially recognized accreditation process. The AMA said its recommendations are designed to help state medical licensing boards, the Federation of State Medical Boards, state and specialty societies, and medical education programs develop and implement reentry programs.
AMA said it wants national reentry policy guidelines that are consistent and evidence-based. Guidelines should specify the length of time away from practice that requires participation in a reentry process and how much clinical care constitutes active practice. Physicians participating in reentry programs should be allowed to engage in supervised clinical practice, the group says.
The AMA collaborated with the Federation of State Medical Boards, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other stakeholders—including leaders in licensure, board certification and medical education, and directors of reentry programs—to develop the guidelines.