Physician Suicide 101: Secrets, Lies, and Solutions

Pamela L. Wible, MD

November 13, 2014

Tertiary Prevention Strategies

Table. Physician Rehabilitation Services

Physician Rehabilitation Rehabilitation Structure
  • Physician substance use

  • Physician mental health

  • Physician physical health

  • Flexible (in/outpatient; part-time)

  • Nonblaming, nonshaming

  • Personal physician oversight

We need physician-specific rehab for substance use, physical, and mental health issues that are unique to physicians and medical students.

Even medical students and residents with physical ailments feel ostracized from the group. The message usually goes something like this: "Let us know when you're off the ventilator so we can put you back on the call schedule." What kind of support is that? Rehab should be flexible, in town, with part-time work options. You know what kept Greg from drinking? His work. He loved working. Why send this excellent doctor 300 miles away? Greg shouldn't leave town for inpatient rehab if local, outpatient rehab is effective. And rehab should be nonshaming. When Greg called his mom (a psychiatrist) for help from the PHP facility, his treating counselor said, "Oh...you had to call your mommy?" What kind of treatment is that? We need personal physician oversight so our vulnerable colleagues are not abused and traumatized when they need help.

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