Why Are Abusive Physician’s Reluctant to Seek Help?

As a part of the medical training of all physicians, it is necessary to rotate through all of the specialties in medicine. This means that all physicians must rotate through a period of exposure in psychiatry as well as all other areas of medicine. One of the obvious reasons for this practice is to make certain that all physicians have enough knowledge and experience to appropriately make use of all specialties other than their own.

Unfortunately, psychiatry is an area of specialization that is often viewed by surgeons, cardiologists, oncologists and neurologists as somewhat soft, as it relates to being scientific. Psychiatry is considered to be highly subjective with questionable scientific evidence. In addition, any mental health intervention carries with it a stigma that may be damaging to a physician’s professional career.

One of the first questions posed by physicians inquiring about resources for “disruptive physicians” is ‘Do I have to undergo a psychiatric assessment?’. This question is extremely important to any practicing physician, as it will almost certainly affect his or her entire career if there is anything in any file suggesting psychiatric impairment or even a psychiatric examination.

Therefore, if the goal of a coaching program is to help disruptive physicians who are not addicted to drugs/alcohol, or are not psychiatrically disturbed, a psychiatric assessment must not be made mandatory. Anderson & Anderson, the largest provider of Executive Coaching/Anger Management for abusive physicians in the nation, uses an assessment tool that focuses on the physician’s level of functioning in certain skill areas, and not psychiatric impairment. Our method emphasizes enhancement in level of anger management, stress management, communication styles, and emotional intelligence, or empathy. There are many case examples of physicians who purposely selected the Anderson & Anderson program for its lack of focus on psychopathology. They understand that one’s anger has more to do with a life style choice than it does with psychopathology.

The Anderson & Anderson Executive Coaching/Anger Management course provides skill enhancement in the same four areas mentioned above: stress management, anger management, assertive communication and emotional intelligence. This non-psychiatric model is consistent with the new 2009 Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) standards. Potential clients who demonstrate a lack of motivation to change (based on their scores from the “Personal Orientation to Change” scale) are not accepted into the program.

For more information about Executive Coaching/Anger Management for physicians, please contact our office at (310) 207-3591.

George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF

Fellow, American Orthopsychiatric Association
Diplomate, American Association of Anger Management Providers

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