The Physician Reentry into the Workforce Conference was held from September 9-11, 2008 at the American Academy of Pediatrics headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. It was sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and was attended by health care professionals from around the country. The conference emphasized the identification of and solutions for barriers to physician reentry into the workforce. For this reason, the plenary and strategy sessions were structured to address the full spectrum of issues from a variety of perspectives. As with many complex issues, there was overlap among the topics that resulted from the effect of one issue on another issue.

Materials from this conference can be accessed via the Reentry Project’s Website at www.physicianreentry.org

Brief Summary of Plenary Sessions

Plenary Session 1: Defining the Environment for Physician Reentry

Plenary Session 1 defined physician reentry for the purposes of this conference and oriented the attendees to the myriad of issues involved as a framework for discussion. A brief history of the early and influential work in reentry was provided, including Dr. Saralyn Mark’s seminal research, the activities of the AAP’s Physician Reentry into the Workforce Project, the efforts of the AMA Council on Medical Education, and a review of reentry workforce data from a recent survey conducted by Ethan Jewett, MA. This information helped to inform the deliberations throughout the conference.

Plenary Session II: Designing a National Reentry System

Plenary Session II consisted of two parts: workforce issues on physician reentry and regulation of physician reentry. Part one of this session focused on the implications of physician reentry at the national level in terms of physician shortages, calculations regarding physician supply, and physician supply in times of national disasters. State level issues were also examined through licensure data from the state of Arizona. The session on regulation of physician reentry looked at the physician who chooses to leave the workforce and risks losing state licensure, board certification, and hospital privileges. This session explored what regulatory action may be needed to set standardized criteria for quality and content of physician reentry programs.

Plenary Session III: Preparing Physicians for Reentry

Plenary Session III examined the issues of assessing the competence of reentering physicians and the design and content of reentry programming. Evidence and assessment of clinical competence were discussed along with how to determine which assessment, teaching and evaluation tools are best suited for reentering physicians. An overview of two current physician reentry programs was also provided. The design and content of reentry programs and issues surrounding barriers such as affordability, flexibility, and relevance of existing programs were discussed and whether it is possible for the medical, regulatory and educational communities to achieve agreement on important elements of reentry programs.

Brief Summary of Strategic Sessions

The final session of the conference consisted of strategic sessions for implementing a coordinated agenda for physician reentry. Conference attendees participated in small-group break-out sessions with the charge to develop action steps and/or priority items for their respective session topics: workforce, education, assessment and evaluation, and licensure/credentialing.

  • Priorities/action steps for workforce covered issues, such as the need for reentry data acquisition to impact the workforce and the need to remove barriers to reentry in order to expand the workforce.
  • Priorities/action steps for education ranged from developing a communication plan for physicians who are planning to disengage from practice to developing a structure among reentry programs and other entities considering developing a reentry program.
  • Priorities/action steps for assessment/evaluation covered issues such as the need for consistency in the processes of evaluation/assessment and determining the criteria for who needs a reentry program.
  • Priorities/action steps for licensure/credentialing ranged from the need to work in collaboration with appropriate stakeholders to set reentry standards for specialties to the need for standardized surveys between state societies and state licensing boards.


The Web site at www.physicianreentry.org provides additional information on the Physician Reentry into the Workforce Project. The Web site also contains practical Resources for both physicians seeking to reenter the workforce and others interested in the issue, including employers, educators, regulatory groups, and medical and specialty societies.

Fair Use Policy: Individuals or organizations interested in distributing this Issue Brief or using its content should acknowledge the authorship of the Physician Reentry into the Workforce Project in an appropriate citation.

Suggested Citation: Physician Reentry into the Workforce Project. Issue Brief: Reentry Conference Summary. Elk Grove Village, Ill. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009.