CMA Doc: Leonard Glass, M.D.

January 17, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Plastic Surgery 

(Photo by Rebecca Ostrander, Wall Street Journal.)

Name: Leonard Glass, M.D.
Specialty: Plastic Surgeon
City: San Diego
Member Since: 1972

Leonard Glass, M.D., a retired Rancho Santa Fe plastic and reconstructive surgeon, kept reading about the upcoming primary care physician shortage and he began to wonder if his eight grand children would have access to care. “I just had to do something to ensure my kids and grandkids would have access to good medical care,” he said. “It became my obsession to help fix the doctor shortage.”

So in 2013, he went into the business of teaching old specialists new tricks and launched Physician Retraining and Reentry, an online curriculum to help retrain medical specialists in adult outpatient primary care. “I looked around at many of my retired colleagues and thought, why not get some of these doctors back to work?” The curriculum was developed in collaboration with faculty from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, and the program is taught by current and retired UCSD School of Medicine faculty and practicing physicians who are passionate about making a positive impact on the nation’s health care system.

Many surgeons retire due to diminishing eyesight or fine-motor problems, while obstetricians often burn out in their in their 60s after decades of sleepless nights, he said. And many female physicians leave their medical practices to raise children. These doctors are all still capable of providing general medical care. “My experience has been that there are plenty of physicians out there in every specialty that want to continue to work,” said Dr. Glass, who has been a member of the California Medical Association and the San Diego County Medical Society since 1972. The goal of this program is to provide experienced, medically-licensed physicians with the tools to comfortably and competently practice adult outpatient primary care.

Since the program launched three years ago, about 250 former specialists from across the country have gone through the online program, which provides 180 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME). “About 40 percent of our students have been from California,” said Dr. Glass. They come from all specialties, including psychiatry, neurosurgery, orthopedics and others. “Some of them have retired from their specialty and some just want to do something different." Most are in their late 50s, some of the oldest are in their 70s and 80s.

The program is self-paced and includes interactive tests and live role-playing with actors posing as patients. The program, which cost about $9,700, takes about 5-6 months to complete and covers a wide variety of topics, from the latest diagnostic techniques to medical record keeping, he says.  It does not provide board certification, nor does it teach anything about pediatrics, surgery, anesthesia or obstetrics/gynecology. 

Physicians who complete the 15 course modules receive up to 180 hours of AMA PRA Category 1 credits from UC San Diego School of Medicine in adult, outpatient primary care. Graduates have found jobs with community clinics, to collegiate and industrial clinics, emerging chain store clinics, hospital group clinics and V.A./military clinics.

“Being a primary care doctor is medicine at its finest, but many doctors lose sight of that purpose after practicing a specialty for decades,” Dr. Glass said. “We help doctors get back to the root of why they went to medical school in the first place: to take care of people.”

California's doctors aren't just health care and medical experts. They're also community leaders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and policymakers dedicated to ensuring that patients receive quality health care at an affordable cost. #CMAdocs showcases California physicians leading the charge to help their communities thrive.

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