Dr. Roland Gray is the medical director of the Tennessee Medical Foundation, which offers professional assistance to physicians suffering from chemical dependence, mental or emotional illness. He took a few minutes to sit down with me last week and explain the mission of the Tennessee Medical Foundation (“TMF”), as well as the services it offers to physicians across the state.
The Tennessee Medical Foundation exists to serve physicians across the state of Tennessee. Friends, family members, or business partners refer the majority of the clients to TMF, while a minority of physicians become clients after referral by their attorney or the Board of Medical Examiners.
Who Does the Tennessee Medical Foundation Help?
Most physicians who seek assistance from the TMF suffer from alcohol or substance abuse. Once a physician is referred to TMA, he or she undergoes assessment, and in the case of a chemical dependency, will be recommended to undergo in-patient or outpatient treatment, depending on the situation. Once treatment is complete, the TMF typically will recommend a period of monitoring, usually around five years, in which the physician will be required to continue any recommended outpatient treatment and regularly check in with the TMF. If the physician is successful as a result of his treatment, the TMF will serve as an advocate for the physician, whether before the Board of Medical Examiners or through letters of advocacy or support before a physician’s employer.
The TMF also provides support for distressed physicians who may have difficulties with disruptive behavior. The goal in addressing this behavior is to work in collaborate with the physician, his or her supervisor, and supportively identify the behavior in question in order to alter it. Many physicians are under a great deal of pressure in their professional environments, so it can be helpful to have a third party such as the TMF to serve as a referee in tense personnel situations.
Why Seek Assistance?
“The goal of the Tennessee Medical Foundation is to be there to support, and turn whatever they are going through into a rehabilitative rather than disciplinary situation,” states Dr. Gray. This goal is best accomplished through early intervention, he adds.
If you or a physician you know is experiencing chemical dependency, mental or emotional illness, consider seeking assistance through the Tennessee Medical Foundation. In addition to potential harm to patients and oneself, a failure to seek early assistance can lead to professional discipline from the Board of Medical Examiners, resulting in probation, suspension, or even revocation of a practitioner’s license.