From Addiction Professional By Bob Coates, MDiv, LMFT, Laura Pulido, MSN, ARNP-BC, and Dino Eliadis, MBA :A newly formed group believes the public would be better served with more consistent protocols in professionals' treatment.
A substantial number of licensed professionals such as physicians and lawyers experience addictive behaviors and other behavioral health crises. The interventions and best practices that are in place to ensure their care, treatment and recovery are facing growing scrutiny.
Virtually every state jurisdiction offers interventions for individuals who come forward for help rather than face licensure board sanctions. Usually, volunteer or not-for-profit entities formed by concerned licensure boards regulate the programs that help impaired healthcare professionals and members of bar associations move toward their safe return to their profession, meeting the public's expectations that these individuals have been vetted as safe. The trend has been to keep these professionals' treatment, as protected health information, out of the public eye. Yet there can be both positive and detrimental effects of this, for the public and for the affected individuals.
Before we go on, try to answer the following tough questions about your perception of impaired licensed professionals:
What words best describe your attitude about, for example, impaired physicians, lawyers and judges?
What would be your confidence level in an impaired professional returning to practice and working with your loved one?
Do you believe an impaired professional can return to higher levels of professionalism after treatment?
Do you believe impaired professionals' addiction ought to be made public in their profile?
Is there such a thing as “too much addiction” to be able to return to the profession?
How we answer these questions can be the proverbial elephant in the room. The onset of impairment in these valued professionals might require a “time out” to assess their health and their ability to meet the standards of their profession. When the need for lengthy interventions arises, adjudications result in the affected professional receiving proper guidance toward treatment and recovery.