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Could Retiring Physicians Solve the Primary Care Shortage?

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, September 9, 2013

This August, Glass launched Physician Retraining & Reentry, an online course for seasoned specialists to retrain for part-time careers in adult primary care. The course provides an individual-directed curriculum covering all angles of family medicine, and tests students with exams at the end of each of the 15 modules. The only time students are required to attend in person is for a final clinical exam at the UC San Diego School of Medicine primary care simulation lab.

"We think this program is not appropriate for medical students, interns, or residents, [instead it is for] seasoned physicians who want to relearn at a modern level the things they were taught 20 or 30 years ago as an intern at a hospital," says Glass. "Most of those things have changed dramatically, so they have to be brought up to date. But they are a seasoned physician, so they already know how to talk to patients and take a history and they understand the concept of diseases."

The end goal for the program is to produce primary care physicians qualified for part-time work at already established practices, community health centers, and retail health clinics. Glass says providing physicians with this option for a semi-retired life in medicine allows physicians to get back to what they love to do, treating patients, without the attendant stress of running a practice themselves or of being overburdened at the end of their careers.

The concept of retraining retiring physicians isn't entirely new, but this program's coursework and online design takes an innovative approach. One student has completed the course so far: a 78-year-old retired plastic surgeon like Glass. Seven retired physicians are currently enrolled ; their average age is in the mid-60s.

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2 comments on "Could Retiring Physicians Solve the Primary Care Shortage?"


Sasha (9/13/2013 at 6:51 AM)
Thanks for sharing.

Neha Marfatia (9/11/2013 at 9:49 PM)
I am a 39 yo mother and physician. I stopped working approximately 7 years ago to raise my young children. My youngest is now school age and I would like to work part time as a primary care physician. (I trained as an internist and did one year of family medicine before that). Do you think I should and could do this program? It sounds very intriguing to me. I live in San Francisco.