As cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to rise, the governors of several states have called on former and/or retired physicians to re-enter the clinical workforce to help fight the pandemic.
In response to the crisis, physician licensing boards in many states are temporarily waiving licensure requirements. The Federation of State Medical Boards is maintaining a list of states that have done so here. Many states are also expediting former physicians’ applications to reinstate their licenses. AOA members seeking expedited credentialing can send their AOA Profile to all state medical boards at no cost; and non-members only pay a nominal fee.
Jeff Dunn, DO, MBA, worked as a hospitalist for 10 years after residency, then left clinical practice in 2015 to start Redivus Health, a health care technology company. He recently decided to re-enter clinical practice to aid frontline physicians in fighting COVID-19. Following is an edited Q&A.
What led to you deciding to go back to clinical work?
A few hospitals in my area have reached out to me—they are asking me to help in any way that I can if their doctors get overwhelmed. As a former physician in clinical practice, I developed deep bonds with frontline workers. At one point, I was one of them. I can imagine how stressed and anxious they are. If I can help minimize their stress and anxiety by lending a hand, I will.
I’ve seen the governors of New York and Illinois ask nonpracticing physicians to re-enter the workforce. I’m in Kansas City—our metro area is in Kansas and Missouri. Our governors have not made that request yet, but I wanted to be proactive.
What do you need to do to begin practicing after a five-year hiatus?
It’s different in every state, but both my Kansas and Missouri licenses have lapsed, so I’m currently in the process of getting them reinstated. I did all of my CME this week. Kansas just put into place a process to fast-track retiree license reactivation, and Missouri is planning to do the same. Once my licenses are activated, which should be in 10 days or less, I should be ready to go.
What is re-entering clinical practice going to look like for you?
I’m planning to devote 50% of my time to clinical work. I’ll be working at a few different hospitals in my area and probably also doing some telemedicine. The other 50% of my time I’ll spend on running my company.
Did you have reservations about returning to clinical practice?
I did have some. My wife is scared that I will catch COVID-19. A lot of doctors have died from it in other countries. But a year or two from now, if I don’t do it, I won’t be able to look at myself in the mirror. Health care professionals have this conscience. There’s a real need to have people come back and help battle this thing.
What advice would you give to physicians who are considering re-entering the clinical workforce?
Listen to your intuition. If it is calling you back, you won’t be able to live with yourself if you don’t do it.
You left the clinical world five years ago to start a company. What has that been like?
It was hard for me to leave clinical practice. But the software my company produces allows clinicians to help so many more patients than I’m able to help on my own. We are optimizing patient safety for time-critical diagnoses. We produce decision support software that ensures that health care professionals are making the right decisions and documenting these events in real time. It’s often described as a clinical GPS.
In response to the pandemic, we’ve made our cardiac arrest and respiratory arrest module free for the next 120 days.