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January 26, 2016

The Graying of US Physicians: Implications for Quality and the Future Supply of Physicians

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine–Peoria
JAMA. 2016;315(4):341-342. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.18248

When should a physician retire? This question is being asked more frequently as the number of physicians in the United States older than 60 years continues to increase. In 2012, it was estimated that 26% or nearly 241 000 of all actively licensed physicians in the United States were older than 60 years.1 Patient safety advocates, consumer groups, and policy makers have questioned whether older physicians maintain the necessary cognitive and motor skills to continue to provide safe and competent care. In response, the American Medical Association has announced plans to identify organizations that should participate in the development of guidelines for the testing of competency of aging and late-career physicians that may include periodic evaluation of physical and mental health, neurocognitive testing, and review of clinical care.2

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