Continuing Physician Professional Development
AMA senior group to examine competency of aging physicians
During the Interim Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in Honolulu, the AMA Senior Physicians Group (SPG) will hold a panel discussion on the topic of assessing clinical competency in senior physicians, on Nov. 10 at 12:30 p.m., at the Honolulu Convention Center, Room 318B. The session will focus on the system of assessing, re-licensing and credentialing senior physicians, while ensuring that efforts to assess physicians who are non-board certified or lifetime certified are evidence-based and non-discriminatory based on age.
Paul H. Wick, MD, AMA-SPG Governing Council member and geriatric psychiatrist, will provide the keynote presentation, followed by a panel discussion with audience participation. Invited panelists are Barbara S. Schneidman, MD, MPH, Board of Directors, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, past president, Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), and former vice president of the AMA's medical education group, along with Peter W. Carmel, MD, AMA immediate past president, chairman emeritus of the Department of Neurological Surgery and co-medical director of the Neurological Institute of New Jersey.
A recent story in American Medical News examined the delicate subject of when and how to monitor older physicians to assure patient safety. The article noted that one in five licensed U.S. doctors is older than 65, and many of those doctors will continue to practice due to the physician workforce shortage and the recent economic downturn.
The AMA SPG is working to ensure high-quality care and safety for our patients by collaborating with other stakeholders in the changing health care system. The nearly 55,000 members of the AMA Senior Physicians Group are also active in advocating for reduced licensing and regulatory barriers to senior physicians serving as volunteers in free clinics, while recognizing the need for volunteer physicians to meet other qualifications for practice such as the pursuit of continuing medical education credits.
Medical licensure: Balancing patient protection with the need for physicians
As telemedicine becomes more prevalent, and with today's large health systems spanning two or more states, is the nation's state-based system of medical licensure outmoded? Also, does it inhibit physicians from serving as volunteers in emergency situations across state lines? And is the system too complex and costly for physicians?
State licensing boards, and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), have made efforts to ease the barriers for physician practice in multiple states, reports the Sept. 17 issue of American Medical News. For example, the online Uniform Application for Physician State Licensure is now used by 17 medical boards, allowing physician applicants for licensure to make updates and submit data to multiple boards rather than filling out separate applications for each state.
The FSMB also offers a centralized credentials verification service to ease the paperwork burden for physicians applying for licensure in multiple states. In addition, it is working to develop licensure models to address barriers to multi-state practice. The FSMB's work is supported by a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The AMA "supports standardization of licensure requirements, greater reciprocity among states and reduced licensing burdens on physicians," notes AMNews. A Council on Medical Education report, adopted as AMA policy during the AMA's 2012 Annual Meeting, examines the issue of free clinics and physician volunteers and details licensure barriers for physicians providing pro bono services in states in which they do not have a full license.
Still, some argue that, with one in five physicians holding licenses in two or more states, more should be done to ease barriers. "Why can't I move freely around the country?" asks Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical, which provides free medical, dental and vision care to medically underserved populations. "I know there have got to be controls, but it seems like in situations like this, allowances can be made. It seems like an antiquated system."
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