About The Encore Physicians Program:
The Encore Physicians Program is pilot program at the Alameda Health Consortium that matches retired physicians to clinical roles in community health centers which deliver care to underserved populations. Kaiser Northern California Community Benefits has been working with the regional health center consortium on ways to address the staffing shortages. Kaiser Community Benefits hired Melissa Schoen, Principal at Schoen Consulting with 25 years in the healthcare industry, to explore the demand and opportunity to utilize retired physicians to address the issue. Its mission is to utilize the talent of trained professionals for social good. The pilot program’s objective is to pair retired physicians with our health center member patients and providers who will greatly benefit from the vast experience of skilled physicians. Leading this pilot program is Dr. Gerald Bourne, a retired cardiologist with 25 years of experience at Kaiser Vallejo. Dr. Bourne’s dedication to providing care for underserved community members and his wish to work directly with community health centers makes him the perfect leader of The Encore Physicians Program at Alameda Health Consortium. We recently talked with Dr. Bourne to learn more about him and his role in the Encore Program.
Alameda Health Consortium: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Gerald Bourne: I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada and attended medical school at McGill University. My belief is that good societies care for the health of their members. During my career as a Cardiologist at Kaiser in Vallejo, I enjoyed treating anyone who presented to our Emergency Department. I focused on motivating people to lead healthy lives and assisted with many successful prevention programs. I love running, biking and hiking in the East Bay Hills. Purposeful work, Community, Physical Activity and Spirituality are the keys to this phase of my life.
“I have immense respect for people who work in health centers and the Encore Physician Program is a simple way that I can help multiple centers.”
AHC: What was it about the Encore program that made you want to get involved?
GB: On retiring, I planned to work in a community health center. During my search for the right clinic, I was approached by Melissa Schoen to help lead The Encore Physician Program. This pilot program aims to ameliorate the staffing issues in community health centers with part time retired physicians. I felt well suited to reach out to recently retired peers who wished to maintain purpose in their lives by treating the underserved. I have immense respect for people who work in health centers and the Encore Physician Program is a simple way that I can help multiple centers. It is a win-win for retired physicians and health centers.
AHC: What benefits can an experienced medical practitioner bring to a community health center?
GB: Retired physicians will provide experience and wisdom to many aspects of the health center. They will mentor younger practitioners formally and informally. They will share their knowledge with more seasoned physicians suggesting new treatment ideas to difficult clinical situations. In direct patient care, the Encore Physicians will bring their love of caring for patient to every interaction. These are the special humans who choose to spend their retirement helping the undeserved with skills they have honed for a lifetime. Their joy of practicing medicine will have an uplifting effect on health centers.
AHC: How will the Encore Physician’s Program work within the community health centers?
GB: Encore Physicians are matched to appropriate health centers dependent on skills sets and personality. We recognize that it takes a special person
to be successful in a health center and we take the matching process very seriously. The physicians will generally work two days per week for one year. They will divide their time between direct patient care and mentoring younger practitioners and in some cases assist in quality improvement projects. This is a pilot program; from which we plan to learn how to create the optimal partnership hopefully producing a multitude of long lasting relationships. We are gratefully that both the health centers and the retired physicians are strongly motivated to provide feedback to improve the program.
AHC: What does success for this program look like from both a patient perspective and from a health center perspective?
GB: From a patient perspective, improved access to experienced providers. More confident and knowledgeable younger practitioners and from a health center perspective, improved staffing with seasoned physicians will lead to improved access and delivery of essential health care services.
AHC: What does success look like for this program in the next 3-5 years?
GB: Initial success will be appreciation by both the health centers and the retired physicians for the mutual benefits of the Encore Program. We are starting with a limited number of matches in the pilot program to learn how retired physicians can best be selected and function in a community health center. We hope that more centers in the Bay Area and then California will be interested in hiring retired physicians. Additionally, we hope that an increasing number of physicians will be interested in joining the ranks of the Encore Physicians Program. I am now also focused on publicizing the Program to active physicians who may wish to shift to part time practice in a community health center in the future.