To help ensure a strong and viable physician workforce, the American Medical Association (AMA) today announced new recommendations to improve the process for physicians who want to re-enter medical practice and begin treating patients again after an extended absence. Re-entry is when a physician decides 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 may take a voluntary leave of absence from clinical practice for many reasons, such as child rearing, personal or family health issues and academic leave.
“About 10,000 physicians could re-enter clinical practice in the U.S. each year,” said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, M.D. “Easing the re-entry 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.”
Currently, every state has different requirements for re-entry, and there are barriers including high costs and limited information and resources. Current re-entry programs lack standardized curricula and an officially recognized accreditation process. To help coordinate and ease the re-entry process and strengthen the physician workforce the AMA’s new recommendations are meant to help state medical licensing boards, the Federation of State Medical Boards, state and specialty societies and medical education programs develop and implement re-entry programs.
National re-entry policy guidelines must be developed that are consistent and evidence-based. They should specify the length of time away from practice that necessitates participation in a re-entry process and how much clinical care constitutes active practice. Physicians who are participating in re-entry programs should be allowed to engage in clinical practice under supervision.
The AMA collaborated with the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Academy of Pediatrics and other stakeholders—including leaders in licensure, board certification and medical education, as well as directors of re-entry programs—to develop the recommendations on physician re-entry. To learn more about re-entering practice and to view the complete list of AMA re-entry recommendations, please visit: http://www.ama-assn.org/go/reentry.