Last week there was some buzz on Twitter about a proposal from a retired plastic surgeon in San Diego who has developed a plan to retrain retired specialists as family practitioners. The idea is that this could alleviate the shortage of primary care physicians that exists now and is predicted to worsen as more people become insured.
The 15-module course created by some faculty at the University of California at San Diego involves 100 hours of online study with patient simulator testing on the campus for tuition of $7,500.
According to an article in U-T San Diego, at least one doctor, also a retired plastic surgeon, has completed the course and seven more have enrolled.
Is this a possible answer to the shortage of primary care physicians?
I think not.
Take the course—100 hours of online learning. Does that sound like enough to you? It takes three-years to complete a family medicine residency. Most plastic surgeons I know haven't touched a stethoscope since medical school, don't know the names of any drugs, and couldn't recognize a sick patient under any circumstances.
I rarely look at the comments for online articles, but I read a few family medicine physicians' comments on this. They were highly indignant at the mere mention of training anyone to do what they do for only 100 hours. I would have to agree.
As one commenter said, there must be quite a few lawyers in California salivating over this scheme. Maybe it was even cooked up by a committee of the plaintiffs' bar.
Another small flaw in this plan is just how many retired specialists would even want to do this?
With all due respect [this is what someone usually says to preface a disrespectful comment], I couldn't do it.
We all considered primary care when we were in medical school, but we did not do so for one reason or another. I'm glad some people did. Bless their hearts.
For me to become a family practitioner at this or any other stage of my life would be tantamount to going straight to hell without passing "Go" and without collecting $200.00.
The primary care shortage is going to have to be solved without me and, I suspect, most of my specialist colleagues.