Burnout is in no way the only threat to physician wellness. Just like people from all other walks of life, there are health care providers that fall victim to substance abuse, addiction, and other mental health disorders.
Thankfully, the state of Michigan’s Health Professional Recovery Program (HPRP) is there to help.
Established in 1994 by the state legislature and administered through the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, HPRP provides health care providers with the treatment and support they need to overcome addiction, mental illness, and substance use disorders. Help through the HPRP is voluntary and confidential, providing health care professional with the treatment and support they need to recover and safely return to practicing medicine and providing quality care.
“The goal of the HPRP is simply to encourage suffering health care providers to seek out treatment for their substance use and mental health disorders before those impairments result in irrevocable harm to their careers, or even worse, the patients they serve,” Thomas Veverka, MD, FACS, MSMS President. “One of the keys is getting physicians and other providers to recognize that just because they’re in the field of health care doesn’t mean they’re immune to mental health disorders and substance abuse. These issues affect all sectors of society.”
And the numbers would agree. According to figures provided by the HPRP, over 20 percent of adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, and 10 percent of full-time employees in the U.S. workforce who are 18 and older are struggling with a substance use disorder.
Thankfully, these impairments are often a treatable problem. For Michigan health care providers, the first step is picking up the phone and scheduling an intake appointment with the HPRP.
Following a telephonic intake appointment, eligible participants who have been deemed to be suffering from an impairment brought on by substance abuse, chemical dependency, or mental illness are provided with a plan of action and a monitoring agreement that can get them on to the road to recovery. Plans and monitoring agreements vary but typically require regular drug screening, counseling, and group meetings. And all participants are provided with a case manager who can clarify, support, and encourage participants to follow through and ultimately achieve recovery.
“The HPRP is a wonderful program that offers suffering physicians the help and support they need in a manner that’s safe and confidential. Through HPRP, participants are afforded the ability to retain their jobs, avoid disciplinary action from their licensing boards, and most importantly, get on the road to long-term, sustainable recovery,” says Doctor Veverka. “The most crucial piece is just having the courage to admit you need help.”
For additional information, visit www.hprp.org or call 800-454-3784.