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Lack of reentry oversight for doctors prompts concern

When it comes to undergoing a particular medical treatment or surgical procedure in Rhode Island, many patients only consent because they trust in the extensive training and practical experience of their doctors. What happens in cases, then, when a particular physician has not actually practiced medicine in years? As it turns out, thousands of doctors reenter the workforce every year after taking extended breaks from practicing, and many of them face inconsistent requirements for treating patients again.

Since there are no nationwide guidelines for physician reentry standards, it is largely up to individual states and employers to mandate guidelines for doctors going back to work after taking a hiatus from practicing medicine. Patient advocates argue that the lack of oversight for doctors returning to work is a disservice to the patients, who should be able to trust that their physicians are properly trained. Others argue, however, that efforts should be made to make it easier for doctors to return to the job.

While exact figures are not available, in 2011 it was estimated that around 10,000 doctors reenter the workforce annually. Some states have attempted to account for the large number of experienced physicians returning to work by covering the expenses of physicians who participate in training and reentry programs. Beyond that, universities and medical facilities are increasingly offering retraining programs for doctors who need to update their skills as well as their resumes. Still, some physicians claim that they should not have such a difficult time returning to work and treating patients once again.

Source: MedPage Today, “For Docs Who Take A Break, Coming Back Can Be Tough,” Anna Gorman, June 16, 2015

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