CMA requests that medical board consider physician wellness program best practices

March 04, 2024

The Medical Board of California will review best practices for physician health programs, a move advocated by the California Medical Association (CMA) to better support physicians facing mental health challenges, burnout and substance abuse.

CMA President-Elect Shannon Udovic-Constant, M.D., recently testified before the medical board, emphasizing the critical need to maintain a healthy and resilient physician workforce and the limitations under current law for the board to create a program that aligns with those best practices. The medical board is currently in the process of adopting regulations to establish the wellness program as envisioned in the legislation passed in 2016.

Although CMA sponsored the legislation, which was significantly amended during legislative deliberations, Dr. Udovic-Constant pointed out that since its passage we have experienced a global pandemic that has had a profound impact on physicians, making it clear that broader support and resources are needed so physicians can continue to meet the health care needs of all Californians.

She urged the medical board to reevaluate national best practices in physician health and wellness, suggesting that the board invite subject matter experts, such as the Federation of State Physician Health Programs or the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation, to share their expertise.

In another promising development for physician wellness, Medical Board President Randy Hawkins, M.D., announced the creation of a taskforce to consider the questions on licensure applications related to impairment. Questions asked in the licensing process are discouraging physicians and physicians in training from seeking appropriate care out of fear that it will negatively impact their licensure.

CMA supports increasing physician wellbeing by reducing stigma to seeking care and increasing access to supportive, confidential services as being in the best interest of both patients and physicians.


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