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Oct 31 2008

Contributions to PHP scholarship fund strong in initial year of giving

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Licensees of the North Carolina Medical Board have donated more than $100,000 to a private scholarship fund that helps defray the cost of medical providers’ alcohol/substance abuse assessment and treatment fees.

These gifts have come in response to a change in the Board’s annual registration renewal questionnaire, which since June 2007 has given licensees the option of making a voluntary contribution. As of Sept. 30, total contributions stood at $104,900. The Board appreciates licensees’ generosity.

“Physicians and physician assistants are, by their nature, giving people and that certainly is reflected in the donations received thus far,” said R. David Henderson, executive director of the NC Medical Board. “This money will allow licensees who are struggling with addiction or mental health issues to get help they otherwise could not afford and, hopefully, return them to practice as quickly as possible.”
As of September 2008, more than 2,000 licensees had donated to the NC Physicians Health Program Scholarship Funds. Individual donations range from one dollar to as much as $500. Assessment and treatment, if needed, are often required by the North Carolina Physicians Health Program (NCPHP), the only organization in the state that serves physicians, physician assistants, veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians with impairment issues. An assessment can cost up to $6,000 and the cost of residential treatment may run as much as $30,000. These expenses often come at a time when a health care professional is unable to practice and may be in personal, professional and financial crisis.

Licensee donations support two types of scholarships. Gifts from the Treatment Scholarship Fund help cover the cost of treatment. In some cases, funds also may be used to pay for inpatient and outpatient assessments. A second fund, the Michael Wilkerson Family Fund, assists families of practitioners who are in treatment. Awards from this fund might help loved ones attend “family week” at a residential care treatment facility, or could help with expenses that arise during the time when a licensee is unable to practice.

NCPHP is a not-for-profit organization that provides assessment, referral, monitoring, educational and support services for impaired medical professionals. Referrals to NCPHP are confidential. Licensees may remain anonymous, including to the Medical Board, as long as NCPHP can establish they are safe to practice, or have withdrawn themselves from practice while in treatment.
A Heartfelt ‘Thank you’
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be a recipient of financial support from the NCPHP Scholarship Funds. It was not long ago that I found myself unemployed, in debt and without any significant financial resources. My aftercare and monitoring expenses were substantial, and I began to feel a great deal of fear and anxiety about how I could possibly meet my obligations. I am sure I am not alone in experiencing stress and uncertainty at such a time of career and personal crisis. This may become quite a distraction and potential source of resentment for someone in the upheaval of early recovery. Fortunately, I had a perceptive and compassionate counselor who contacted the NCPHP and suggested I might be a candidate for assistance. I felt enormous relief when I learned that some of my ongoing expenses would be paid by them. This was certainly a case of God doing for me what I could not do for myself… I continue to be grateful to those who made this miracle possible.
The person who received the funds is an anesthesiologist with an addiction problem. This physician received $1,017.50 in scholarship funds from NCPHP.

You need not wait until you renew your license to make a donation. Gifts to the PHP Scholarship Funds may be sent directly to the address below. Make checks to NCPHP and be sure to identify your contribution as a gift to the fund.
220 Horizon Drive, Ste. 201
Raleigh, NC 27615

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