MSDC's Physician Health Program is Here To Help During COVID-19 March 26, 2020

Written by Charles Samenow, MD, MPH

"Wanted to check in since it’s been a week. I feel GREAT!"

These are the words of a resident physician who MSDC intervened on last week.  When no psychiatrist was available to help a resident who was struggling with anxiety and depression exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, MSDC stepped in.  Our clinical case manager Steve Carerras triaged the resident and spent an hour on the phone providing supportive therapy. We were then able to get the resident in with me for formal psychiatric assessment and treatment plan.

Many who think of the MSDC Physician Health Program (PHP) equate it only to physicians who have addiction problems and/or severe pathology or impairment.  That is if they are even aware of the program.  However, the MSDC PHP offers so much more.  Our aim is to help any physician who is in distress.  This includes:
mental health problems (large or small)

  • behavioral/communication problems
  • substance use problems
  • cognitive problems
  • physical disability

We offer a range of services including on-site interventions and triage, brief counseling/support, referral for comprehensive assessment (when indicated), referral to treatment providers who work specifically with physicians, monitoring for physicians in recovery and advocacy to regulatory bodies and hospital staff.  Our goal is to keep physicians who experience challenges in our workforce practicing the best and safest medicine possible.

In order to support our work, I ask that you consider joining the MSDC. You membership dues help us offer these services to physicians across the District.  Under the leadership of our current president, Dr. Pineda, the MSDC is looking to expand our health and wellness services to provide brief counseling and coaching to physicians who may not need intensive services of the PHP but still need help.

Every time I help a physician return to practice, whether it be this resident in crisis or a mid-career physician who has had to leave medicine for detox and rehab, it gives me great joy.  Please join me in supporting the MSDC and in doing so supporting physician health across the District of Columbia in these tough times.

Stay safe;.

Charles P. Samenow, MD, MPH
Chair, MSDC Physician Health Program
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Medical Faculty Associates
George Washington University School of Medicine