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Doctors' skills, knowledge can erode after long hiatus

People in Southern California step away from their jobs all the time. They may become a stay-at-home parent or caregiver to an ill loved one, or they may have to deal with a serious illness of their own.

After several years, the person may decide that it is time to return to work. But in many specialized fields, things change quickly. Practices and techniques that were the norm five or 10 years ago may now be totally out of date. If the field we are talking about is medicine, a patient’s health and safety could be in the hands of a rusty and behind-the-times physician.

Requirements differ by state when it comes to allowing a physician who has been out of the field for several years to return to practice, and there are no nationwide rules. The Federation of State Medical Boards has called for a standard procedure, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. This would tracking doctors to see if they are currently practicing and what their area of training is.

One California physician found it difficult to restart her career after taking 10 years off to raise her children. She eventually enrolled in an online training program, did a week of job shadowing, and passed written and practical tests involving “treating” actors playing patients.

It may be worth remembering that just because a doctor is not fresh out of medical school, it does not mean he or she has as much experience as you might believe. There could be gaps in his or her training that may put you at risk of harm.

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