My answer - yes, and that was already happening in Russia where I am from.
When my relatives had a surgery, when I gave birth to my children in Moscow, there were no licensed physicians there - because physicians were not licensed at that point.
A diploma from a 6-year medical college with a rigorous training schedule and rigorous exams at the end of each semester, year and 6 years, and a residency after that were enough proof of professionalism.
Here in the United States the idea of occupational licensing of medical professionals became some kind of a sacred cow - even if a physician treating you does not really know the drugs he or she is prescribing and cannot adequately explain to you the necessity or possible complications or side effects of the proposed diagnostics or treatment.
And, in the medical profession, same as in the legal profession, the advance of artificial intelligence (AI) raises the question as to - why occupational licensing is needed - more and more.
For example, I recently wrote about a controversy in South Carolina where entrenched optometrists blocked consumer use of a smart phone application accurately diagnosing vision problems in order to get cheaper prescription glasses - forcing themselves upon consumers as the necessary link to get glasses, only through a prescription by a licensed optometrist. While such a measure provides a zero incremental value for the consumers and deprives the consumer's own choice about their own health, for their own money, it provides protection for optometrists who invested all those years and all that money into education, training and licensing, and could not let go of they grip on a diagnostic procedure that can easily be done now in your own home by a phone app.
The same is happening in the legal profession where, despite the existence of an AI research engine for several years already, and despite the availability of online dispute resolution computer systems, professional bar associations try to draw out the life of their dying profession by blocking (on "ethical grounds", of course) introduction of virtual offices where people having knowledge of the law would be able to practice that law from any point in the world that has an Internet connection, to benefit any consumer who wants to pay for that service, and through criminal "unauthorized practice of law" laws, deeming as "practice of law" what a computer bot can do without a human, trained or untrained, licensed or unlicensed - which makes no sense whatsoever. The not so funny part is that what constitutes the sacred cow of the "practice of law", is not clearly defined anywhere.
A similar situation, eroding the alleged necessity of medical licensing, is developing now in the medical profession with the introduction of an AI project called "Human DX" which supposedly contains databases, input from participating physicians and an ability to quickly and accurately analyze diseases and conditions remotely.
The interesting quirk in marketing and promotion of the Human Dx project is that all diagnostics can be done remotely. Supposedly, that is good to provide medical care in "remote rural areas" - in the today's "doublespeak", to provide care for the poor.
Now, would people want to "tap into collected wisdom and gain access to tests, opinions or diagnoses that" "primary care docs at smaller or remote practices" would not have otherwise?
But, didn't all of us, at some point in life, hear from their physician "that is beyond my area of expertise, I will refer you to a specialist"?
And, aren't there disciplinary rules prohibiting physicians and other medical professionals to practice outside of their area of expertise - as a measure of protection of consumers?
Then, what is that "tapping into collective wisdom and gain access" thingy? Who is going to diagnose "underserved patients" in remote rural areas?
Office secretaries who would run an AI set of tests based on input of data that a nurse collected?
How would the patient subject to diagnostic procedures, know who exactly diagnosed him/her and who is responsible for that diagnosis?
How much such a remote diagnostics cost - will it up the cost of medical services because of the cost of the Human Dx project which surely does not come free?
And, the two most important questions of all -
- will the use of the Human Dx project become mandatory for the poor, as a substitute of a referral to an actual physician, in order to save money, and
- does the use of Human Dx on the poor - instead of diagnosing them, as the rich will, most likely, continue to do, with the use of human physicians - amount to unlawful medical experimentation without consent?
That "we have no current methods for measuring [the fundamental skill of clinical reasoning]" - "aside from using a combination of the subjective opinions of more senior doctors and surrogate markers such as exams".
So, why do we need licensing then?
And, as to licensing of physicians -
- if any given disease or condition can now be easily diagnosed by "tapping into the collective wisdom", remotely, and by an AI system that has not only a superior way of assessing the "fundamental skill of clinical reasoning", but supersedes it and superimposes itself as a super-diagnostician unsurpassed by single human physicians, and
- if such remote diagnostics of a patient without seeing him by those into whose "collective wisdom" "primary docs" in remote locations will "tap", if this kind of remote diagnostics is not an ethical violation in treatment of the poor, and the poor will not even know if they were diagnosed by a physician or by an office assistant running a battery of tests on an AI,