AMA promotes a straightforward way for doctors to re-enter medicine

The AMA has recognized an issue that VISTA and other locum tenens companies have been concerned about for many years—getting physicians back into the workforce after they have left clinical practice for an extended period of time.

We get calls all the time from physicians who left practice for family or health reasons or who pursued alternative career tracks and are ready to get back to hands-on medicine. Unfortunately their options are limited, complicated, and often very expensive.

We have referred physicians to a few re-entry educational programs, including one at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia and to the Center for Personalized Education for Physicians in Denver. The North Carolina Medical Board also has a program, as does the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville.

On January 25, the American Medical Association, in collaboration with the Federation of State Medical Boards and the American Academy of Pediatrics, issued recommendations calling for a comprehensive and transparent regulatory process for physicians to return to medicine.

VISTA supports this call because we agree that bringing physicians back to medicine is one more step toward managing the physician shortage. (We believe that keeping them in the workforce through flexible options like locum tenens is another.) It is much faster and cost effective to refresh and recertify a trained physician than it is to wait for medical schools to expand and produce more doctors. The AMA estimates that as many as 10,000 physicians might opt to rejoin the ranks every year.

Plus, in our experience, “boomerang” physicians often bring a renewed sense of energy and commitment back into medicine with them.

This discussion is in the early stages. We will keep you posted as it progresses. In the meantime I’ll pass along the advice our recruiters give to physicians considering a professional transition—keep your license or licenses active! It’s the best way to ensure that you will have options down the road.

Here’s a rundown of the relicensing requirements for physicians who want to return to medicine after an absence (unrelated to discipline.) These guidelines apply to both MDs and DOs unless noted.

Alabama: No policy.
Alaska: Policy under development.
Arizona/MD: Re-entry program required after 10-year absence.
Arizona/DO: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Arkansas: Policy under development.
California: Re-entry program required after five years out.
Colorado: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Connecticut: No policy.
Delaware: Decided on a case-by-case basis.
District of Columbia: Re-entry program required after one to five years out.
Florida/MD: Re-entry program required after two years of inactivity or five years of retirement.
Florida/DO: Re-entry program required after five years out.
Georgia: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Hawaii: No policy.
Idaho: No policy.
Illinois: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Indiana: Re-entry program required after three years out.
Iowa: Re-entry program required after three years out.
Kansas: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Kentucky: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Louisiana: No policy.
Maine/MD: Re-entry program required after one year out.
Maine/DO: No policy.
Maryland: Decided on a case-by-case basis.
Massachusetts: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Michigan: No policy.
Minnesota: Re-entry program required after two to three years out.
Mississippi: Re-entry program required after three years out.
Missouri: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Montana: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Nebraska: Re-entry program required if a physician has not practiced in at least one of the prior three years.
Nevada: Re-entry program required after one year out.
New Hampshire: Decided on a case-by-case basis.
New Jersey: Re-entry program required after five years out.
New Mexico/MD: Re-entry program required after two years out.
New Mexico/DO: No policy.
New York: No policy.
North Carolina: Re-entry program required after two years out.
North Dakota: Policy in development. Currently on a case-by-case basis.
Ohio: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Oklahoma/MD: Policy in development.
Oklahoma/DO: Re-entry program may be required after one year out.
Oregon: A physician out more than 12 months may be required to take a competency exam or additional training. This is dependent on specialty.
Pennsylvania/MD: Re-entry program required after four years out.
Pennsylvania/DO: Policy in development.
Rhode Island: Policy in development.
South Carolina: No policy.
South Dakota: Decided on a case-by-case basis.
Tennessee: Re-entry program required after five years out.
Texas: Re-entry program required if a physician has been out of clinical practice for more than one year within the past two.
Utah: Re-entry program required after two years out.
Vermont/MD: Re-entry program required after five years out.
Vermont/DO: Re-entry program required after one year out.
Virginia: Re-entry program required after four years out.
Washington/MD: Re-entry program may be required if out for two years, but this varies by specialty.
Washington/DO: No policy.
West Virginia/MD: Re-entry program required if out for 18 months.
West Virginia/DO: No policy.
Wisconsin: Re-entry program required after five years out.
Wyoming: Decided on a case-by-case basis.

Source: State Medical Licensure Requirements and Statistics, 2011, American Medical Association (www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/40/physician-reentry-regulations.pdf)