In July 1998, an Ad-Hoc Committee of the Vanderbilt Medical Center Medical Board was formed and given a two-part charge:
1) To review the currently available resources designed to assist distressed or impaired Vanderbilt medical professionals, and
2) To make recommendations for action that will support the continued physical, emotional and psychological health and development of our colleagues as these relate to their performance within the Vanderbilt Medical Center and designated facilities.
There was a very strong consensus by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Physician Wellness that an effective program for the Vanderbilt Medical Center should include the following components: prevention, intervention, treatment, relapse prevention, as well as environmental modification to promote healthy living and management of professional stress. Subcommittees were formed for each of these areas to identify current resources and areas of need. Out of this came the Faculty and Physician Wellness Committee (FPWC) at Vanderbilt. The committee was established in January 2000 under the leadership of W. Anderson Spickard, Jr., M.D. with the following commitment:
“We have a duty as physicians and members of the medical staff to ensure our patients’ welfare by virtue of their care by healthy physicians. We also have a duty to our impaired colleagues to recognize their suffering. A statement from the American Medical Association’s Council on Mental Health encapsulates this concept; “It is the physician’s ethical responsibility to take cognizance of a colleague’s inability to practice medicine adequately by reason of physical or mental illness, including alcoholism and drug dependency.”[Ref] Vanderbilt Medical Center as an institution shares this moral obligation.”
~ Andy Spickard, Jr. M.D.