President's Message: Peter Mansky, MD, April 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I will be ending my presidency this April after three-and-a-half years of service. During this time, it is my pleasure to share our accomplishments. We contributed to the Federation of State Medical Boards’ (FSMB) Policy on Physician Impairment, which not only reflects our guidelines, but also our overall approach to physician health problems (the exception being continued use of the word “impairment” in the title). We also played a substantial role in the development of physician health policies in the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the AMA. Our guidelines and discussions — both in person and over the listserv — during the past 15 years have established us as the most substantial force in physician health within our organization and in others. Considering our increasing influence and new diagnostic and treatment models in the field, it’s important we review our guidelines for substance use disorders.

Our first annual meeting after the development of our bylaws consisted of about 20 representatives around a big conference table. Our annual meetings now attract attendance from a majority of our state and provincial member programs, their associates, and many others. The annual meeting has been and will continue to be a source of considerable academic and practical input into our field. The meetings generate a substantial percentage of our revenue, which gives our organization the ability to explore future development needs.

Our board discussed membership and the proposed expansion of our membership to include individual or auxiliary membership, which will allow more communication with people who have interest and input in physician health but do not qualify for state or associate membership. Although we are currently a membership organization of state PHPs, this would include academics and others who make contributions to our field. Our board will address the voting membership programs we have for state PHPs. The discussion will involve the wisdom and process of seeking membership from other programs that provide assistance to health care professionals — but not physicians. Many of these programs are now members of national associations based on employee assistance programs. We share many goals with non-PHPs, but these programs may not share our mission at all levels.

Our programs address the major aspects of prevention — primary, secondary, and tertiary. These activities are being challenged, especially the safety of our participants as practitioners. Many of us have said we would rather go to a physician in our program than a random physician in the community, but we need more evidence of the quality care they are giving. We know that the recovery rate of our participants is substantial. Recovery increases the quality of their family and social lives as well as the quality of the medical care they provide others. The increased quality of family and social life — an overall life balance — spurs physicians to take better care of themselves, which inevitably leads to better care of their patients.

With more funds in reserve, increased annual meeting attendance, and the success of our program planning committee, we can fund starter research of our own.Such a project will position the FSPHP to obtain federal and special grants, as well as present an opportunity to utilize the services of a grant writer. Our research task force, under the excellent leadership of Drs. Jeffery Selzer and Michael Gendel, will likely coordinate these activities.

These are exciting times for the FSPHP. Our retreat last fall set a new mission statement along with goals and objectives. I encourage you to participate on committees, and to contact your federation board representatives and officers to express your opinion.

Thanks to all of our members whom have contributed their time and energy to help our Federation change and grow over the two and a half years of my service as president. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting in April.

— Peter A. Mansky, MD, DLFAPA
President, Federation of State Physician Health Programs
Executive Medical Director, Nevada Professionals Health Program