In 1978, the Tennessee Medical Association (TMA) Board of Trustees established a committee for the purpose of offering professional assistance to physicians suffering from chemical dependencies. In 1992, the TMA transferred oversight and management of the program to the Tennessee Medical Foundation (TMF), a 501(c)3 organization.
The Physician’s Health Program was originally staffed by the late William Anderson, MD, and other volunteer physicians throughout Tennessee. Dr. Anderson’s vision and dedication to helping troubled physicians laid the foundation for the program in the years to come. The first full-time Medical Director, the late David T. Dodd, MD, was hired in 1984 and carried on that vision. In January 2002, the late Roland W. Gray, MD, succeeded Dr. Dodd as medical director and led the PHP until his retirement in February 2017. Today, Michael Baron, MD, serves as medical director and continues to provide confidential care for physicians and other healthcare professionals the program is tasked to assist.
Initially, the PHP was focused on alcohol and drugs. In response to changing needs, the Tennessee Medical Foundation reshaped the program several years ago to assist physicians, their families, and hospitals with a wider range of problems, to include mental and emotional health issues. Today the TMF is working to become more proactive, encouraging physicians and other licensed health professionals it serves to call the Physician’s Health Program before a problem threatens patient safety, their career, or their lives.
The PHP has also been instrumental in assisting medical schools in Tennessee with programs targeted at medical students and residents. These programs are primarily educational, but they also aid medical school faculty in identifying students and residents afflicted with the disease of substance abuse.
The program seeks to come alongside physicians and other health professionals and offer guidance and accountability in their recovery and restoration to practice.