Online Retraining Program Seeks To Address Physician Shortage

March 31, 2015 in News

An online program aims to retrain doctors in various specialties in primary care in an effort to stem a growing shortage of such providers, the Fort Smith Times Record reports.

Program Details

In May 2014, a group at University of California-San Diego School of Medicine launched the Physician Retraining Re-entry online program. Leonard Glass, who led the group, said that the program is designed to allow health care providers from “all other medical specialties” to be retrained as primary care providers.

Glass noted that many experts “conservatively estimate” that the U.S. has a shortage of about 33,000 primary care providers and that figure will double over the next 10 years as more individuals become insured under the Affordable Care Act.

Glass said the program, which consists of 15 courses, uses an electronic system called UptoDate — a popular medical resource for hundreds of thousands of physicians around the world.

According to Glass, the program can last up to one year, but most participants complete their coursework in four or five months. The online program costs $8,500. He noted that so far:

  • 13 health care providers have used the program to become primary care providers;
  • 80 health care providers currently are enrolled in the program; and
  • About 20 health care providers are preparing to soon begin the program.

Glass said about two-thirds of program participants are health care providers, including psychiatrists and obstetricians, who want to continue practicing medicine but may be suffering from burn out and surgeons who are unable to operate as a result of injury. Meanwhile, the remaining one-third are providers who were expected to be retired but decided to retrain for a new field (Lovett, Fort Smith Times Record, 3/29).

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