Becoming a physician requires years of Investments. In addition to the graduate schooling required, physicians need to maintain a license issued by the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine.
To keep a license to work as a physician in Pennsylvania, you need to pay licensing fees, maintain appropriate insurance and commit to continuing education requirements. All of those investments in your profession could be at risk because you struggle with substance abuse.
Research shows that roughly 15% of medical doctors struggle with some form of addiction, whether to alcohol or prescription medication. That figure may also be unrealistically low, as it depends on self-reported information, treatment records and court data. Addiction is a widespread issue in the demanding world of modern medicine. If you struggle with chemical dependence, your career could be in danger.
How might an addiction endanger your license?
Through criminal charges
If a physician gets arrested for drunk driving or drug possession, those criminal charges could have a direct impact on their license to practice medicine.
Even if you don’t immediately report your arrest or conviction to the licensing board, they will likely learn about it when you renew your license. Criminal convictions can lead to a disciplinary hearing that could potentially result in the loss of your medical license.
If you use your job to access medication
One of the reasons addiction is so prominent in the medical world is that physicians have easier access to controlled substances than many others. Being in a workplace where you can pocket a few pills or ask a co-worker to write you a prescription can make dependence on medication that much more dangerous.
Not only could you find your own license at risk, but you could also endanger the licensing and reputation of any doctors who write you a prescription or pharmacists that fill your prescriptions.
Through substance abuse on the job
Most physicians struggling with addiction will still come to work sober every day. However, sometimes, people get called into a shift unexpectedly or make a bad choice while at work.
Not only could substance abuse at work lead to poor outcomes for patients that trigger review and discipline, but co-workers and patients could also submit complaints if they suspect intoxication or impairment. Allegations of impairment on the job could lead to disciplinary hearings that cost professionals their licenses.
Recognizing that your addiction issues could put your medical license at risk can help you protect your career.