professional options for Dr. who has lost license to practice
May 22, 2009 9:55 AM   Subscribe

My brother has surrendered his license to practice family medicine because he tested positive for a pain medication that was prescribed for our other brother who was dying of cancer...

We are a family of 6 adult siblings. Three years ago our youngest brother died of lung cancer. We tag-teamed his care while he wasted away and died. One of our siblings was a family practice Dr. and he assumed a shared role as caregiver and medical advisor. This brother died and then two years later another brother was diagnosed with lung cancer too. Because of geographic proximity, my Dr. brother assumed a greater role in the care of the second brother. Simulteneous to this event, my Dr. brother had lost his job when the company he worked for lost its medical care contract at the state prison. He went to work for a medical temp agency while trying to relocate his family to be nearer our cancer stricken sibling. While under the stress of caring for another dying brother and being away from his own family for extended periods of time, he used drugs prescribed for our brother for pain, and was caught because of a previous substance abuse problem. He had been clean for 5 years. He surrendered his license to practice in this state with the understanding that the medical board would review his case and give him conditions for having it reinstated. Our second brother died in February. It has been 6 months since he has surrendered his license, the board shows no interest in reinstating, and he has been stymied trying to find employment. I am looking to the hive to help to find related employment for a physician without a license to practice. I think his substance abuse problem is currently under control, and he attends Naranon and AA meetings weekly. He is desperate to find employment that uses his medical knowledge. Somehow he is staying optimistic but I am concerned because I know that there is a high rate of suicide in the medical profession, and with all the events that have transpired in the last 6 months, he is a likely candidate. Please give some creative ideas about finding a new career direction that uses his medical training.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not sure of the details involved in this so maybe I shouldn't even comment, but I'm throwing it out there anyway: could he look into going into research in a medically/pharmacologically oriented lab? Maybe in an academic setting? In the lab I work in we have a number of MDs who are doing basic science research there. They are particularly useful in conducting animal experiments since they know how to do injections and whatnot.

I think the circumstances for at least some of them were that they were practicing MDs, but in other countries (like China) and thus not licensed here. So instead of going through all that they just went into research instead.
posted by sickinthehead at 9:59 AM on May 22, 2009

Maybe insurance review? People who review whether care should be covered? It doesn't sound like fun to me but I know of some nurses who do well by it. I'm not sure if your liscence needs to be intact to do it.

Health education?
posted by sully75 at 10:01 AM on May 22, 2009

Or, for that matter, following on sully75's suggestion, working as an advisor for a law office that handles medically-related cases?

(Though I could also imagine there would be problems if they needed him to testify in a contentious case, since the opposing attorney could go all "yeah, well, Doctor House is a DRUG ADDICT WHO LOST HIS LICENSE (don't listen to him, jury!"...)
posted by at 10:25 AM on May 22, 2009

What kinds of things is he interested in outside of medicine? If he is interested in politics or social justice, he might work for a non-profit that lobbies Congress or the state legislature or (on the admin side) of an entity that provides health care to an underserved population (Planned Parenthood, undocumented workers, people without insurance), or a think tank, formulating health care policy ideas. If he likes to write, maybe he could write about medicine (blog, popular press articles, a book). If he's interested in law, he could be a consulting (non-testifying) medical expert for a medical malpractice or defense firm, for example.
posted by *s at 10:26 AM on May 22, 2009

American Indian reservation hospitals often serve as 'dr. rehabilitiation' centers. I don't know the specifics, but you might want to dig around there.
posted by unixrat at 10:31 AM on May 22, 2009

You might want to contact some of the local medical malpractice lawyers - they always need physicians to help deal with the questions of liability.
posted by filmgeek at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2009

I think so far the medical research idea sounds pretty good. Perhaps he could get certified as a phlebotomist so that he could draw blood. He could function as a genius phlebotomist and wherever he was working could get great value for their money.
posted by sully75 at 11:26 AM on May 22, 2009

Is he a member of Sermo (a forum for physicians)? They can give the best advice, and I've read about this issue coming up a few times before.

Also, if he does regain his license, he will likely be excluded from Medicare and Medicaid for 5years+ or maybe forever and will unlikely be able to be credentialed by any third parties. In that situation i would say: military doctor.
posted by texas_blissful at 11:31 AM on May 22, 2009

How about medical publishing? The journal companies are often looking for people with scientific backgrounds for editorial roles.

Medical devices manufacturers and pharma companies also come to mind -- especially sales.
posted by libraryhead at 11:38 AM on May 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Medical license boards are state-operated units. You don't say what state your brother is in, but maybe he could use his elected representatives to help prod the board to come up with conditions that he must comply with before re-licensing.

There is a fairly sizable literature on the treatment of impaired/ addicted physicians. Search on those terms and you'll see many citations. Unfortunately, programs to treat impaired physicians often come under assault because some physician in the program will make some terrible medical mistake. His/her impairment comes to light when the incident is investigated and public outrage drives the debate.

The suggestion of working to review claims for insurance companies might be a good one.
posted by jasper411 at 11:41 AM on May 22, 2009

I heard from a psychiatrist that had a problem with painkillers and booze (great combination, right) that working for VA hospitals without a DEA number was also possible. That was probably a decade ago, so perhaps the physician's assistance program in your state can help. Example.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:48 PM on May 22, 2009

While he is looking for a job, could your brother perhaps keep some money flowing in by signing up with an expert website like I understand that they are currently recruiting people with medical expertise.

As an aside, I work for a law firm that has a contract with a major malpractice insurance company that represents physicians in insurance and licensing matters. Our firm has a good relationship with the licensing board in our jurisdiction and it has helped many doctors with substance abuse problems get their licenses reinstated. It might be worth looking for such a firm in your brother's jurisdiction - could he call his former insurer for recommendations?
posted by madforplaid at 2:16 PM on May 22, 2009

I wanted to add something to what sickinthehead suggested. Research is definitely an option. When I worked in research we had several foreign trained MDs on our team. Some were not legally able to practice medicine as a physician in the US due to licensing requirements but they were valuable members of the team in other ways. If he enjoys science, research is something he should really consider.
posted by GlowWyrm at 7:27 AM on May 23, 2009

Thanks everyone for some very thoughtful suggestions. I have much to think about before my meeting tomorrow with Dr. brother. Madforplaid, you have excellent instincts.
posted by yankee named dixie at 2:52 PM on May 23, 2009

« Older Things to see or do in Milwaukee this weekend.   |   Craigs list 419er Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.