As many as 10,000 physicians a year may be re-entering practice after an extended absence, driven by a range of reasons, including financial need, changes in family dynamics, or even simply missing their former career. However, returning to practice after an extended absence raises multiple issues. When a physician has spent multiple years away from practice, how can their clinical competency be assessed? How will they familiarize themselves with changes that may have taken place during their absence? And how will they protect themselves from malpractice liability during the period of acclimation?
As many as 10,000 physicians a year may be re-entering practice after an extended absence.
Addressing the Barriers
There are a number of barriers to re-entry that can make it particularly difficult for physicians to make a smooth transition back into clinical practice. Some of these include the length of time away from an active clinical practice, continued licensure, maintenance of clinical education during their absence, lack of information on re-entry programs and process, liability coverage availability, and financial costs associated with re-entry. In addition, every state medical licensing board has different policies for re-entry, making it particularly difficult to understand what will be required when making the decision to rejoin clinical practice.
1. Before You Leave
If possible, before beginning an extended leave, physicians should consider the implications of their departure and explore ways to improve their re-entry status should they decide to return to practice. When doctors return after an absence greater than two years, medical boards require additional assessment and supervision by a licensed physician throughout the duration of the re-entry process. For most doctors, their planned place of employment will assign a physician to oversee the re-entry process, but if employment is unavailable, the re-entering physician may have significant difficulty identifying a suitable proctor.
2. Take Assessments
Depending upon the length of time away from clinical practice and individual state laws, physician re-entry may also require a formal assessment or structured educational program to identify and address deficits in the doctor’s abilities. A list of some re-entry programs compiled by the Physician Re-Entry Into the Workforce Project can be found here. In addition, the Federation of State Medical Boards has a comprehensive directory of physician assessment and remedial education programs. Additional resources for re-entry are available on the AMA’s physician opportunities webpage.
3. Talk with Your Insurance Provider
Physicians re-entering clinical practice will also be required to carry medical professional liability insurance once they begin any clinical care. This includes the time spent under licensed physician supervision. Insurance providers may have different guidelines for covering re-entering physicians, so it’s imperative that the individual reach out to his or her medical malpractice carrier early in this process for detailed information.
For more information about liability protection around re-entry, Curi members can contact the Underwriting department by calling 800-662-7917.
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