Nuanced approach needed to assure senior physician competency

The growing number of seniors in the physician workforce and increasing expectations for physician accountability are bringing attention to the question of whether age-based competency screening may be necessary to assure safe and effective practice. A recent article in theJournal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions (JCEHP) notes several challenges to establishing a national screening standard. These include designing an evidence-based screening process, determining the appropriate body to administer the screening and striking the right balance between patient protection and fairness to senior physicians. The article, “Ensuring Competent Care by Senior Physicians, ” notes that the number of U.S. physicians 65 and older more than quadrupled between 1975 and 2013. Seniors now make up almost one-quarter of the physician workforce nationwide, and nearly 40 percent are actively engaged in patient care.Effects of age on competency Research suggests there is an increased risk for competence and practice-performance decline with increasing years in practice, but the effect of age on individual physicians ’ competency is highly variable. Other factors, such as one’s practice environment, can also affect a physician’s clinical performance. Moreover, the article notes, aging itself does not cause cognitive impairment. In addition, “some attributes needed to deliver quality health care—such as wisdom, resilience, compassion and tolerance of stress—may inc...
Source: AMA Wire - Category: Journals (General) Authors: Source Type: news
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