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Could Retiring Physicians Solve the Primary Care Shortage?

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, September 9, 2013

With a goal for 100 students to complete the course in a year, Glass hopes his program could be an option not only for individual physicians, but for health systems and healthcare employers that might see this as an alternative for physicians close to their retirement years.

"The old school physician says you really can't educate people to be a primary care physician without them being on campus for 3 to 12 months where they regularly go to clinics. They say that's the only way it can be done. We don't agree with that. We think it can be done online and effectively and affordably, and we can enroll many more students than the two or three slots most medical schools have available for a retraining programs like this," says Glass.

When asked whether Baby Boomers might find the online learning style intimidating, Glass admits it might deter potential students from signing up. But with technical support and faculty available 24/7, Glass hopes the program can provide all the necessary help to get over that hurdle.

Questions still remain whether this education model is enough to sufficiently train this population of physicians to practice primary care. Some worry about the quality of patient care, but incentivizing physicians to stay in the workforce is better than no care or delayed care.

The ultimate test will be when Glass enrolls himself in January, eight years into his retirement and 50 years after medical school.


Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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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.