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Stay up to date with news, announcements, and upcoming event information from the Washington Physicians Health Program team. For an archive of relevant resources on a wide variety of physicians health topics, please visit Articles and Publications.

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WPHP Report – What is the Washington Physicians Health Program Doing About Physician Suicide?

Physician suicide remains a concerning issue, and the Washington Physician Health Program (WPHP) initiatives aim to provide crucial support, resources, and prevention strategies. For insights into WPHP’s comprehensive strategies and the broader implications of physician suicide, explore the recent submission from Dr. Chris Bundy and Dr. Jeffrey Sung to WMC Update!

This article highlights WPHP’s commitment to accurate information dissemination, risk assessment protocols, and educational efforts. Emphasizing a compassionate approach, WPHP navigates the complexities of physician suicide, advocating for dignity, hope, and well-being.

Together, we can support our healthcare professionals and foster awareness on this critical issue.

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The Washington Physician Health Program CARES for Dentists!

In the world of healthcare, professionals often find themselves under immense pressure. The demands of the job, coupled with personal challenges, can sometimes push them to their limits. While Cary’s story is fictional, it exemplifies the kind of transformation that healthcare professionals can achieve with the support of organizations like WPHP. We encourage you to read the recent submission to the Washington State Dental Association (WSDA) to dive into Cary’s journey and learn more about how WPHP is making a difference in the lives of healthcare providers.


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WPHP attends the 2023 ACPH Conference

What is ACPH?

The American Conference on Physician Health (ACPH) is a conference that brings together experts, healthcare professionals, and organizations committed to enhancing physician well-being.

Promoting Research and Discourse

One of the primary objectives of ACPH is to foster research and discourse surrounding physician health. By gathering medical professionals and healthcare leaders under one roof ACPH serves as a platform for sharing the latest research, studies, and insights in the field of physician well-being. Attendees have the unique opportunity to engage in discussions that lead to a deeper understanding of the challenges physicians face and the potential solutions that can be implemented.

Professional Satisfaction in Medical Practice

Improving physician well-being ultimately leads to higher levels of professional satisfaction. ACPH equips attendees with the tools and knowledge they need to create a work environment that promotes satisfaction among physicians. This, in turn, benefits both healthcare providers and the patients they serve.

A Candid Conversation: Dr. Bundy and Dr. Cunningham

Dr. Christopher Bundy and Dr. Carrie Cunningham came together to co-present a session titled “Physician Health Programs: A Candid Conversation.” This insightful discussion offered attendees a unique opportunity to gain deeper insights into the challenges and opportunities related to physician well-being programs.

In a profession where the well-being of physicians directly impacts patient care, the American Conference on Physician Health (ACPH) is a crucial step toward a brighter and healthier future. By promoting research, addressing health system infrastructure, and providing actionable steps for organizations, ACPH empowers physicians and healthcare organizations to create an environment where professional satisfaction and well-being thrive

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Highlights from the 2023 FSPHP Western Regional Meeting

WPHP had the privilege of attending the 2023 FSPHP Western Regional Meeting on October 6th. This gathering brought together a diverse group of attendees, including all FSPHP Member Classes and PHP Members, all united by a common goal: to explore the world of physician health and impairment.

One of the many enriching segments of the meeting was the Round Robin, where each PHP provided a short summary of their organization. PHP staff members were introduced, and important details about the size, budget, funding sources, and current conditions of each PHP were shared. The discussion also delved into referral patterns, successes, and challenges faced by each organization. This was a valuable opportunity to learn from one another, discover common ground, and explore new initiatives in the field.

Understanding the vital connection between physician health programs and medical boards was another highlight of the meeting. Christopher Bundy, MD, MPH, FASAM, Executive Medical Director of the Washington Physicians Health Program, Beth Jensen, DO, Lead Physician of the South Dakota Physician Health and Wellness Program, and John Kuhn, MD, Director of the Oklahoma Health Professionals Program shared their insights and shed light on the importance of strong relationships between these entities for the benefit of physicians and the public.

The event concluded with a session on PHP difficult case presentations, led by Laura Martin, MD, Associate Medical Director of the Colorado Physician Health Program, and Laura Moss, MD, Associate Medical Director of the Washington Physicians Health Program. This segment provided a deeper understanding of the challenges and complexities that PHPs encounter in their daily work.

Events like these serve as a reminder of the positive impact that collaboration and knowledge sharing can have on the medical community. We are excited to carry this inspiration forward as we continue our journey in the field of physician health and impairment.

Together we can make a difference in the lives of physicians and by extension, the health of our communities.

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Breaking the Silence: Dr. Carrie Cunningham’s Candid Journey

Dr. Carrie Cunningham reveals her lifelong battle with depression, anxiety, and addiction to her peers. Read her powerful story in this recent article in The Guardian and be part of breaking the stigma around mental health in medicine.

Click Here to Read More

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Addressing Burnout Among Healthcare Professionals: Insights from CPE Annual Meeting

At the recent CPE Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dr. Bundy had the opportunity to present and facilitated meaningful dialogue on a pressing concern within the medical community: burnout among health professionals undergoing practice assessment or remediation. This included a dive into the prevailing landscape of burnout identification and intervention, examination of the gaps and unmet needs specific to burnout, innovative strategies to bridge the identified gaps and provide support for healthcare professionals during assessment or remediation, and exploring exciting opportunities for additional research in the field of healthcare well-being.

We encourage you to stay engaged with this crucial topic and actively participate in the ongoing conversation about healthcare professional well-being. Together, we can drive positive change in the healthcare landscape.

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National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

September 17th is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. This somber occasion highlights a stark and often overlooked issue within the medical community. While physicians are the dedicated healers we turn to in times of need, they, too, suffer silently from a hidden epidemic: an alarmingly high suicide rate. On this day, we unite to bring this pressing problem to the forefront, with the hope of promoting awareness, fostering understanding, and ultimately, saving lives.

Physicians dedicate their lives to the service of others, committing themselves to a profession that demands unwavering dedication, resilience, and empathy. However, many physicians face a daunting challenge that threatens their well-being: an alarmingly high rate of suicide. Over half of all physicians have known a colleague who has grappled with suicidal thoughts, attempted to take their own life, or tragically lost their battle to depression and despair.

To comprehend the gravity of the situation, it is crucial to recognize the numerous challenges that physicians encounter daily:

Evolving Practice Environments: The medical field is constantly evolving, with new technologies, treatments, and guidelines emerging regularly. Keeping up with these changes can be overwhelming and lead to immense stress.

Early Retirements: Many physicians are forced into early retirement due to burnout or the overwhelming demands of their profession. This not only affects their financial stability but also exacerbates the shortage of healthcare workers.

Healthcare Worker Shortages: The medical community is grappling with a shortage of healthcare workers, which places added pressure on those who remain. The resulting workload can be overwhelming, leading to burnout and mental health struggles.

Mounting Patient Disparities: Physicians often find themselves navigating the challenging terrain of healthcare disparities, where they witness firsthand the unequal access to quality care. This can be emotionally taxing, as they strive to provide the best care possible despite systemic limitations.

It’s imperative that we acknowledge the toll these factors take on the mental health of physicians. Burnout rates are on the rise, and the emotional strain of their profession can lead to severe consequences. On National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, we must commit to addressing this crisis and taking proactive steps to support our healers. For those who may be struggling with mental health issues or know someone who is, help is available. Click the link below to access valuable suicide prevention resources and support, whether you are a physician yourself or concerned about the well-being of a medical professional

Resources and Support 

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WPHP attends the 2023 Florida PRN Conference

Washington Physicians Health Program (WPHP) was delighted to attend the Florida PRN (Professionals Resource Network) Annual Conference. It was an occasion to engage with fellow healthcare professionals, share experiences, and collaborate toward the common goal of ensuring the well-being of healthcare providers while safeguarding the public’s health and safety.

Through programs like PRN and the connections forged at conferences like this one, healthcare professionals are encouraged to seek help, address their challenges, and continue providing quality care to the public.

More about the The Professionals Resource Network

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WPHP Presents at the American Dental Association Summit

At the recent American Dental Association (ADA) Health and Well-Being Summit, Dr. Chris Bundy had the privilege of presenting with FSPHP Executive Director Linda Bresnahan on the critical role of Physician Health and Health Professional Programs. The one-day summit was a platform to address the significance of prioritizing the well-being of the dental community and foster collaboration regarding the importance of supporting healthcare providers who may be facing personal or professional challenges. These challenges can range from burnout and mental health issues to substance use disorders. During the presentation, Dr. Bundy and Ms. Bresnahan emphasized the pivotal role that Physician Health and Health Professional Programs play in addressing these challenges. These programs are designed to provide confidential and compassionate support to healthcare professionals, ensuring they receive the help they need while protecting patient safety. While the value of these programs is undeniable, several challenges hinder their recognition and effectiveness:

Culture of Silence: In many healthcare settings, a culture of silence around personal struggles persists, making it difficult for providers to seek help.

Over-Reliance on Self-Identification: Healthcare professionals often bear the burden of identifying their own issues, which may not always happen due to stigma or lack of self-awareness.

Lack of Awareness of PHP: Many providers are unaware of the existence and purpose of Physician Health Programs.

Mis/Disinformation: Misconceptions and misinformation can cloud the understanding of these programs’ objectives and confidentiality.

Confused with Regulatory Entities (Dental Boards): Confusion between Health Professional Programs and regulatory bodies like dental boards can lead to misunderstandings about their roles.

Real and Perceived Burdens of Participation: Concerns about costs and perceived burdens can deter providers from seeking help.

Lack of Clear Policies and Procedures: The absence of clear guidelines for referrals to PHPs when concerns of impairment arise can lead to inconsistent practices.

Unsustainable/Undesirable Practice Variation Among PHPs: Inconsistencies in the approach of different Physician Health Programs can lead to variations in support quality.

Funding: Adequate funding and resources are essential to ensure the effectiveness of these programs.

The dental community, like many other healthcare sectors, faces unique stressors and demands. By prioritizing the well-being of providers and addressing these challenges collectively, we can help them lead healthier, more fulfilling lives and ensure that patients receive the best possible care. WPHP was honored to participate in the ADA summit and shed light on the importance of Physician Health and Health Professional Programs. By recognizing the challenges faced by healthcare providers and prioritizing their well-being, we can create a healthcare system that is healthier, more compassionate, and ultimately better for both providers and patients.


Learn More About The ADA Here

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Washington Physicians Health Program Stands With Our Healthcare Heroes

Meet Cary, a 42-year-old podiatric physician whose life recently took a challenging turn. Cary’s story, although fictional, sheds light on the vital role played by the Washington Physicians Health Program in times of adversity.

Read Cary’s remarkable transformation in Dr. Bundy’s contribution Washington State Podiatric Medical Association’s Newsletter.

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Suicide Prevention Training for Veterinary Professionals

The University of Washington has launched a free three-part course aimed at suicide prevention strategies for veterinary professionals. Our very own Associate Medical Director, Dr. Laura Moss, has invested extensive effort to help develop this comprehensive course. The modules cover a range of topics, including understanding suicide, supporting at-risk individuals, promoting wellness, reducing stigma, and addressing access to lethal means. By completing this course, veterinary professionals gain valuable knowledge on how to promote well-being and create a supportive environment within their field.

Learn more about this free course.

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Contributions to the FSPHP 2023 Annual Education Conference

The Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) Annual Education Conference is a highly anticipated event that brings together experts, advocates, and stakeholders in the field of physician health. This year’s conference, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was no exception. WPHP’s participation in the conference was multifaceted, reflecting the organization’s commitment to advancing the field of physician health through expertise, innovation, and advocacy.

A major highlight for WPHP was the development of an alternative toxicology testing paradigm. At the 2022 FSPHP Education Conference, WPHP presented innovative approaches to toxicology testing that utilized technological advances in specimen collection and validation systems. This year, Dr. Bundy and Ms. Courtney Strong returned to the conference to present follow-up data and answer questions, helping to improve toxicology testing for other programs.

Dr. Bundy also joined panelists J. Corey Feist, JD, MBA, Scott Hambleton, MD, DFASAM, Michael Baron, MD, MPH, DFASAM, to discuss the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation’s mission to support the well-being of healthcare workers at the conference.

In addition, Dr. Bundy participated in the FSMB-FSPHP  joint session where he and co-presenter Mike Farrell, JD,  Policy Director at WMC, highlighted the collaborative effort between WMC and WPHP.  In doing so WPHP and WMC aim to inspire and encourage other states to establish similar coordinated relationships.

Another area of focus during the conference was the presentation by Dr. Bundy, along with Dr. Michael Baron and Buddy Stockwell III, JD, on Medication for Opioid Use Disorder in Safety Sensitive Workers. Their presentation drew on their extensive knowledge and experience to provide insights on this important topic.

WPHP’s involvement in the FSPHP Annual Education Conference was not limited to presentations and panels. The organization also took the opportunity to connect with fellow experts and advocates, building partnerships and networks that will strengthen the field of physician health to improve outcomes for physicians and patients alike.

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WPHP Advocacy

Learn more about our advocacy work and the positive changes we’ve made in the latest edition of the WMC newsletter!

Read the full update here.


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Barriers to Recovery for Medical Professionals: Assessing Financial Support through a Survey of Physician Health Programs

Physician burnout, psychiatric problems, and substance use disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent. However, the costs of recovery for physicians enrolled in Physician Health Programs (PHPs) remain unexamined. This survey study published in The American Journal on Addictions recent article sheds light on the financial strain on physicians, especially those in training, and highlights resources for financial assistance such as fee deferrals and sliding scale fees. It’s crucial that access to PHPs is available, destigmatized, and affordable for all physicians.


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An Update on the Washington Practitioner Application

Check out this edition of WSMA’s Weekly Rounds to learn more about the updated Washington Practitioner Application. A big thank you to Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) , Washington Medical Commission , and Washington Credentialing Standardization Group (WCSG) for all your support along this journey!

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Karl Pister’s Podcast on Collaborative Relationships


Listen to Karl Pister’s podcast episode featuring Dr. Chris Bundy where they explore a range of topics from relationship-building to burnout in healthcare professionals.



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WPHP Advocates For Participants

WPHP works to protect and enhance the confidentiality of our participants. We’ve compiled a list to highlight some of the hard work we’ve done over the past year.

Recently, Dr. Bundy interviewed with InvestigateTV to explain how confidentiality for physicians translates to safer care for patients.

A few weeks ago, in partnership with the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington Medical Commission, WPHP was successful in preserving an important protection for participant confidentiality in the public records act. 

WPHP introduced legislation in 2022 that adds enhanced confidentiality protections for program participants. SSB 5496 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

In November 2021, WPHP worked closely with the Washington Medical Commission to remove licensure questions about health history, replacing them with an advisory that points to WPHP. The amended application only asks about current impairing or potentially impairing substance use that is not known to WPHP.

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Dr. Tammie Chang’s new book, “How to Thrive as a Woman Physician”

How to Thrive as a Woman Physician provides valuable insights, tip, and resources for all women physicians!  

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