Will Future Doctors Need a Medical License?

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Licensing Doctors – Do Economists Agree?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™


Dr. MarcinkoChallenging conventional wisdom is something I like to think … that I do.

After all, I am considered a healthcare ‘thought-leader”, and to the extent possible, we publish outside traditional box thinking on this Medical Executive-Post.

It’s all Relative

But, I am a piker compared to Shirley Svorny PhD.

Who is she?

Dr. Shirley Svorny is chair of the economics department at California State University, Northridge, and she holds a PhD in economics from UCLA

Medical Licensure Issues

Now, remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”.

Well, a while back, Dr. Svorny wondered if a medical degree is a barrier – rather than enabler – of affordable healthcare. Enter the PP-ACA of 2010.

As an expert on the regulation of health care professionals, including medical professional licensing, she has participated in health policy summits organized by Cato and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She argued that licensure not only fails to protect consumers from incompetent physicians, but, by raising barriers to entry, makes health care more expensive and less accessible.

Institutional oversight and a sophisticated network of private accrediting and certification organizations, all motivated by the need to protect reputations and avoid legal liability, offer whatever consumer protections exist today. Malpractice attorneys, and monetary gain motives, too!

Her Published Abstract

“Despite the wide reach of medical licensing in health care production through its impact on the nature and cost of care, it has been all but ignored in debates over health care reform.

This paper pulls together statements made by economists whose expertise is in the area of health economics or, more specifically, medical licensure and discipline. Economists who have examined the market for physician services in the United States generally view state licensing as a means by which to enforce cartel-like restrictions on entry that benefit physicians at the expense of consumers. Medical licensing is seen as a constraint on the efficient combination of inputs, a drag on innovations in health care and medical education, and a significant barrier to effective, cost efficient health care.”

Full paper link:  2004-08-svorny-reach_concl


Am I Thought-Leader?

Am I a thought leader? Well, I don’t rightly know; that’s for others to decide. But, I do know that this essay was published a decade ago; in 2004, and at a time before the ME-P’s existence.

And so, based on this essay, Dr. Svorny is surely a “thought-leader” in my opinion

More about Dr. Svorny

In 1986-87, Dr. Svorny managed an industry risk group at Security Pacific Bank. She was a Milken Institute Affiliated Scholar and served as director of the San Fernando Valley Economic Research Center at Cal State Northridge. She has published articles in Economics of Education Review, Contemporary Economic Policy, Urban Affairs Review, Public Choice, Regional Science and Urban Economics, Cato Journal, Applied Economics, The Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline, The Energy Journal, Economic Inquiry, and the Journal of Labor Research. Her opinion articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News. Her research interests are in the areas of urban, labor, and health economics.


Do traditionalists or collective healthcare reform advocates and health economists react rationally; or irrationally on this issue? What do you think?


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com


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3 Responses

  1. Dr. Marcinko,

    Interesting idea. But, the need for a medical license will not be obviated in your lifetime.


  2. The Decline of the Credential

    Aaron – While the academic-industrial complex will continue to churn out superbly trained physicians, massive on-line education will enable persons to gain a surprising level of lay-expertise.


    At least according to Jaan Sidorov.


  3. Unlicensed Practitioners?

    I received much flack for my ME-P above. Now, I feel a bit vindicated with this breaking information. So, what do readers think, now?



    MO Bill Would Create Assistant Doctors to Boost Rural Care

    Missouri may soon allow licensed medical school graduates to practice medicine and prescribe drugs without having completed a residency. The proposal, which has passed the state legislature and awaits the governor’s signature, aims to address the issue of providing adequate healthcare in rural and other underserved areas of the state.

    Under the bill, graduates of accredited medical schools could become “assistant physicians” and provide primary-care services in rural or medically underserved areas if they haven’t completed residency training.

    However, they must have completed the first two steps of their medical licensing exam. A collaborating physician would be responsible for all services rendered by the assistant physician.

    Source: Bob Herman, Modern Healthcare [6/24/14]

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