Correcting Some Myths
by Robert Bondurant, RN, LCSW Executive Director
A major deficiency still plagues the MPHP! As we begin 2014, I would like to revisit what this is and ask for your help.
During 2013 as I would interact with a variety of administrators and physicians, I again found that the range of services that we offer is not well known or remembered. What really caused me to pause and reflect on this was the termination of a highly qualified physician who could have benefited from some legitimate help. The group he was associated with responded to his issue in a traditional way and it failed. Once I learned what the issues were and how inadequate their response was, I was saddened that this physician had not been referred to the MPHP.
Another interaction also grabbed my attention. I met a physician socially who inquired about my work. He was very pleased to learn that a program existed to help physicians in crisis. He told me that he had had a patient who was a medical student that had completed three years of his education. The physician I met was very impressed with this young student but was saddened when he learned that the student had left school. He tried to find out how to help but was unable to get involved. He regretted that he had not known about our program then. Yes, the MPHP is one of the few physician health programs nationally that provides services to medical students.
The general impression is that the MPHP assists only physicians with substance use problems. However, this is far from accurate! True, the MPHP has become highly skilled in educating about drug/alcohol problems, performing interventions, referring for treatment, and providing monitoring and advocacy, but what else is there?
- Psychiatric issues: Included are physicians who may be suffering from burn out, or who are severely stressed in addition to more serious issues, such as PTSD and suicidality. Suicide remains statistically high among physicians. Again, we can educate, intervene, refer for treatment and monitor.
- Behavior issues: This is a very comprehensive category. It ranges from socially odd behavior to physical aggression. Behavior can initially be rather benign but left unaddressed it can lead to more serious and dangerous situations. This category includes boundary violations as well, which can be very destructive to one’s career. It may involve inappropriate relationships with patients or associates, and/or inappropriate script writing.
- Licensure questions: The MPHP can be of help in assisting medical students and others applying for licensure or licensure renewal. Often applicants need assistance in the proper way to handle critical questions.
- Family problems: The MPHP assists families of physicians with a variety of problems that impact the ability of the physician to focus on his/her patient care. By so doing we assist the family member but also the mental health of the practitioner.
- Aging physicians: The MPHP is able to assist individual physicians seeking advice or administrators who are having concerns with a physician’s cognition or behavioral changes. We also can advise administrators who are developing policies in this arena.
hope this information is beneficial and is seen by all administrators and physicians in leadership roles. Physicians who have devoted many years to training and have made large financial investments in their careers certainly deserve help when needed. Their careers and lives are at stake, notwithstanding the effect they may have on their patients and allied healthcare staff. The MPHP was established to help physicians in trouble. We cannot help them or the facilities where they work unless we know about the situation and can offer the help they need. Please keep this in mind and also remember that our services and consultations are confidential. Thank