What Can Doctors Expect From A Physician Health Program?

What Can Doctors Expect From A PHP-Physician Health ProgramAddiction treatment centers for physicians are called physician health programs (PHP), and most are run by states. Almost all states have a PHP, which is a treatment facility that is specifically tailored to the needs of doctors and other health care professionals. They are designed to help physicians struggling with addiction to not only get well, but also get back to work. There are several elements of a PHP that makes it different from a typical addiction rehab.

Why Do Doctors Get Special Treatment?

It is important to first understand why PHPs exist and why doctors seem to get special treatment. Drug abuse in health care professionals is more common than you might think. Because of the demands of the job, life-and-death decisions, high level of responsibility for patient wellness and long hours, doctors work with a lot more stress than most people. This, along with access to substances of abuse, means that there are higher rates of addiction among doctors than the general population. They also represent a special case because physicians are more afraid to admit to needing help than the average person. The risks are high and they face losing the ability to practice medicine.

What Makes A Physician Health Program Different?

A doctor who gets addicted to drugs or alcohol needs a specialized treatment to encourage recovery and to provide a way to get well while still being able to work in medicine again. Here are some elements of treatment doctors can expect when getting treatment at a PHP:

  • Specialized evaluations. PHPs make use of a multidisciplinary team to evaluate patients for mental health issues, contributing factors from family, substance use history, physical health and other factors.
  • Individualized plans. Treatment plans at PHPs are not one-size-fits-all. They are designed for the unique needs of each individual. This makes them highly effective when compared to more generalized treatment.
  • Support groups. While most addiction treatment programs make use of support groups, those in PHPs are specifically for doctors. The patients get support from their peers, the people who truly understand what they are going through, and this is a powerful factor in getting well and an important motivating factor for staying sober.
  • Aftercare and monitoring. Addiction treatment is most effective when there is some kind of follow up. Physicians leaving a PHP continue to get outpatient care and are monitored for substance abuse over the long term.

Perhaps what makes PHPs truly unique is the motivation factor. When doctors know that they can continue to practice medicine, they are highly motivated to get into recovery and to stay sober. Doctors going through treatment at a PHP are working toward two important goals: getting well and working again. Drug abuse in health care professionals is more common than most people realize, but there is a solution, and PHPs help thousands of people every year.

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