AAFP Board Chair Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver, recently offered the Academy's support for a House bill designed to put a dent in the nation's growing physician shortage by helping primary care physicians return to clinical practice after a stint away from patient care.
"The AAFP shares your commitment to improving the process of physician re-entry to clinical practice following an extended period of clinical inactivity not resulting from discipline or impairment," said Cain.
He noted that even though personal and professional opportunities periodically take family physicians out of the clinical loop, those physicians "remain important contributors to the family physician workforce."
- In a letter to Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., the AAFP voiced its support for the Primary Care Physician Re-entry Act, H.R. 5498.
- If passed into law, the legislation would help ease the country's primary care physician shortage by improving the process for physician re-entry into clinical practice.
- The bill calls for the creation of a demonstration project aimed at the development of "innovative programs" to aid individuals trained in primary care or primary health care services and seeking to re-enter clinical practice.
Cain stressed the importance of clearly delineating the steps physicians need to take to acquire the licensure, credentials and privileges necessary to resume practice.
He called for a transparent re-entry process that would mesh with current licensure and maintenance of certification processes and focus on "helping physicians to deliver effective, efficient and high-quality patient care."
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce. If enacted, it would establish a demonstration project aimed at developing "innovative programs" to aid individuals trained in primary care or primary health care services who seek to re-enter clinical practice.
Sarbanes' legislation specifically calls out family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, and mental health services as specialty areas provided for in the legislation.
The demonstration project would fall under the purview of HHS and be funded through grants awarded by the HHS secretary and distributed to applicants such as individual states, hospitals, academic medical centers, medical schools and teaching health centers.
Funds would be used to, among other things,
- train physicians to re-enter practice,
- pay credentialing fees,
- cover salaries of re-entering physicians and
- provide loan repayment assistance to re-entering physicians.
Re-entering physicians would be required to provide primary health care services at a health center in a medically underserved area, a Veterans Administration medical center or a school-based health center for at least two years.
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