Tennessee Medical Foundation's Physicians Health Program. For nearly a quarter of a century, the Physicians Health Program (PHP) has been offering professional assistance to physicians suffering chemical dependence, mental or emotional illness, or both. The Tennessee Medical Association started the PHP in 1978 and, to enhance its charitable mission, transferred the program to the auspices of the Tennessee Medical Foundation (TMF) in 1992. The PHP’s purpose is to protect patients from identifiably impaired physicians and to afford impaired physicians every opportunity to be rehabilitated to productive medical practice.
In response to requests from hospitals, physician groups and family members, the TMF has reshaped the program to assist physicians and their families with a wider range of problems. They include rage issues, inability to get along with other group members, and various psychological issues that inhibit a physician’s ability to practice his or her healing arts. With a success rate approaching 90 percent (ahead of the national par), the TMF-PHP intervenes with some 150-200 individual physicians, residents, and medical students across the state each year. The PHP has developed a highly successful, professionally managed program to help salvage the practices—and the lives—of impaired physicians.
The PHP has a full clinical staff contingent including full time Medical Director, Roland W. Gray, M.D., and a full time Clinical Coordinator, Jeanne Breard, R.N. Three part-time Assistant Medical Directors in Johnson City, Knoxville, S. and Memphis, extend the Medical Director’s reach into all regions of Tennessee, ensuring that any physician who needs the TMF’s help gets it quickly.
Referrals may be made confidentially by an employee assistance program, a co-worker, family member, friend or the physician him/herself. If the physician has come to the attention of the Board of Medical Examiners (BME) or its investigative staff, and the physician is willing to undergo a thorough evaluation to determine the extent of the problem and any treatment needed, all information may be kept confidential from the BME. The Board also makes referrals to the PHP when a rehabilitation program is deemed appropriate as a part of any disciplinary action.
Chemical dependency is a significant problem among health professionals and is a chronic, progressive illness that can be treated effectively. As with all chronic illnesses, the earlier the identification and treatment, the better the prognosis. Some signs of chemical dependence are:
Mood swings, inappropriate behavior at work, frequent days off for implausible reasons, non-compliance with acceptable policies and procedures, deteriorating appearance, deteriorating job performance, sloppy and illegible charting, errors in charting, alcohol on breath, forgetfulness, poor judgment, and lack of concentration.
Physicians, their family members, colleagues, and anyone needing to refer to, or otherwise make use of, the PHP’s peer assistance program may contact the TMF PHP at its new headquarters:
216 Centerview Drive
Brentwood, TN 37027