The future depends on what you do today.—Mahatma Gandhi
Knowledge, skills and practice patterns in medicine are changing continuously and are doing so at an ever-faster pace. In this issue of JMR we bring you two perspectives on the importance of staying sharp in this environment. “Physician Reentry: Results of a Post Program Survey” sheds light on an important topic: How do we ensure physicians who have been away from active practice for some time have the skills they need to start practicing again? Medical boards take great care to ensure physicians are up-to-date and qualified to practice — and they often require physician-retraining after only two years of absence from clinical practice. This is often a time-consuming and costly process, but is absolutely necessary. Our featured article examines outcomes from one evaluation and retraining program, finding that the most frequent reasons for pursuing such a program are wanting to practice clinical medicine after an absence, the desire to refresh medical skills, or to receive clinical privileges at a facility. Interestingly, about one-fourth of the participants in the reentry program studied were unsuccessful at achieving their goals. Understanding why returning physicians fail to meet their goals in these cases is important if we are to create successful retraining in the future…As the number of physicians needed has increased in the United States, nurses and pharmacists have assumed greater responsibilities and authority in the provision of health care services. Our second featured article in this issue, “The Role and Rise of Interprofessional Continuing Education”, proposes that 25 percent of continuing education be devoted to a non-traditional interprofessional educational effort for entire teams — including health care providers from nursing, medicine and pharmacy. This will require a completely different approach to continuing education and evaluation of the results of the educational activity. The goals of such activities are ambitious and include better communication among team members, better outcomes for patients, decreased cost of care and increased efficiency of the entire health care system. It is not yet clear how the effectiveness of such training will be evaluated. As medical practice and health care systems continue to rapidly change, the importance of anticipating how best to prepare individual physicians and entire teams for the future cannot be overstated. The ideas presented here need further study for our evolving health care system.