Retraining Retired Docs to Alleviate Physician Shortage
By Linda Barlow
If the industry estimates are correct, the United States could be facing a shortage of primary care physicians to the tune of 130,000 needed doctors by 2025. But a program developed by a group of physicians, along with University of California San Diego School of Medicine faculty, seeks to address that shortage.
The Physician Retraining and Reentry program (PRR) is an online program designed to give experienced, medically licensed physicians and specialists — retired or otherwise — the opportunity to practice adult outpatient primary care in understaffed clinics across the country.
The program has also given new hope to disabled surgeons who are no longer able to practice surgery, but who are far from voluntary retirement. While these surgeons are unable to perform surgery due to dexterity issues, they are fully capable and eager to treat patients in a primary care setting.
“With approximately 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day and becoming Medicare eligible, and an additional 30 million people gaining access to healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act, PRR is doing its part to help make a positive impact on the nation’s healthcare system,” says Dr. Leonard Glass, founder and president, PRR, and a former UC San Diego School of Medicine professor.
To participate in the program, physicians must take 15 online courses, covering everything from cardiology and dermatology, to medical records. Doctors must pass each course’s test before moving on to the next course. After completing all 15 courses, doctors must pass a final online exam.
“Physicians completing the program will have mastered the medical knowledge and diagnostic skills necessary to serve as outstanding general practitioners,” adds Dr. David Bazzo, chief medical officer, PRR.
After a doctor completes the program, the PRR team provides job placement assistance in health centers in desperate need of expertly trained staff. This includes community clinics, collegiate clinics, industrial clinics, emerging chain store clinics, hospital group clinics, retail clinics, military clinics and urgent care centers.
PRR has received inquiries about its program from 1,000+ physicians in nearly all 50 states, including U.S. military physicians who have served internationally and are hoping to secure jobs in primary care when they return home. More than 70 students are currently enrolled in the program and just over a dozen are either employed or pursuing employment with the help of PRR staff.
One of those graduates is Dr. Michael LaRocque, who currently is working as an M.D. with a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Vista, California.
“After running a private urology practice for nearly three decades, I entered retirement for several years before reading a news article about Physician Retraining & Reentry,” says Dr. LaRocque. “I always thought primary care was an interesting field, and I was ready to make more productive use of my free time. By completing the PRR program, I was able to land a great job that averages about 30 hours per week at a federally qualified health center near my home. It’s wonderful to be seeing patients again and to be making an income without the responsibility of running an entire practice.”
PRR is a unique program designed to address the country’s doctor shortage program. Are you aware of any other programs with the same goals? Let us know in the comments section.
To read this on the RWHC blog, click here.