The impact of a growing senior physician population
■ Commentary from other news and opinion sources
Posted Sept. 17, 2012.
One in five physicians in practice in 2010 was older than 65, according to data from the American Medical Association. That number is expected to go up as more physicians delay retirement, whether it be for financial reasons, a desire to keep working and active, or a strategy to prevent an expected physician shortage from growing worse.
American Medical News has written about the aging of the physician population and how the health system is adapting to it. Some are calling for more fitness tests for older physicians to ensure patient safety. Others are offering accommodations to keep older doctors in practice, including trying to make it easier for retired physicians to come back and start treating patients again.
Experts on geriatric psychiatry, neuropsychology and physician assessment say that as the physician population gets older, more needs to be done to test the skills of senior physicians to ensure patient safety. However, advocates for older physicians say such tests could discriminate against doctors who still have a lot to offer to patients. Read story
In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women in 2005, according to a physician search firm's survey. The part-time rate for women is driven by those younger than 45, but the survey said the rate for men is largely driven by those older than 65. They don't want to practice full time, but they want to keep seeing patients. Read story
Physicians who want to come out of retirement, like any doctor who steps away from practice for a while, can end up facing a confusing or daunting array of requirements to meet to regain their licenses and certifications. The AMA says 10,000 more physicians could come back annually if the re-entry process were made more straightforward and transparent. Read story