Modern medicine is always evolving. There is new research being conducted and new methods of treatment being formulated every year, which means what worked in the past isn’t always the best method of doing something in the future. But just because something is new, does that always mean it’s better?
This is the exact question that’s at the heart of a new proposed bill in Michigan which may ease certification mandates placed on doctors. Currently, Michigan doctors must re-apply for medical board certification every seven to 10 years. This legislation, created in the 1990s, replaced the old method of certification which stated that once a doctor is certified, they are certified for life.
As it’s currently stated, the proposed bill would ease the burdens of doctors and revert closer to the original concept of being certified only once. The implications of not completing the recertification would include not being reimbursed for insurance and prohibiting doctors from obtaining state medical licenses.
Opponents of the bill cite an “unnecessary burden” placed on doctors to recertify. They cite the time it takes to study for the materials, which takes valuable time away from patients, and also the costs associated with recertification, sometimes climbing as high as $5,000 in total. Proponents of the bill cite a need for continued education for medical professionals and insurance companies have the peace of mind that the doctor they’re covering is up-to-date on the latest medical findings and strategies.
And while this issue isn’t directly related to simulation and training, it presents a microcosm of a major problem in medical training and safety -- doctors are content with their training and rely on it until the end.
Do medical professionals have enough training and education in their years upon years of schooling and residency to last them their entire career? Or does their training have a shelf life? Also, is there a difference between general practitioners and specialists?
On first glance, it would make sense to send general practitioners to further schooling because their knowledge base has to extend as far as the newest research. New medical issues are found every year, and a doctor should be aware of what the newest diseases and conditions are. However, specialists are also in need of a continuing education because new conditions may have an effect on their specialty. Both doctors, if they are certified surgeons, could also benefit from knowing the latest technology and strategies for surgery.
Michigan’s legislation is still in delegation, so no decision is expected anytime soon. But this decision could go a long way to establishing some kind of protocol for doctors and other medical professionals moving forward.