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PHMP and the Voluntary Recovery Program (VRP)


What is the PHMP?  The PHMP, or Professional Health Monitoring Programs, is the entity within the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs responsible for ensuring that health care practitioners determined to be suffering from a mental or physical disorder, such as a substance use disorder, receive treatment and monitoring to ensure that that are capable of practicing with a reasonable degree of skill and safety to patients. One of the resources that the PHMP uses to fulfill its purpose is the Voluntary Recovery Program, or VRP.

What is the VRP?  The VRP is one of the methods that the PHMP uses to ensure that impaired professionals undergo appropriate treatment and receive monitoring to ensure that they remain capable of practicing safely. The VRP is a non-public, non-disciplinary program.  If successfully completed, participation in the VRP is NOT reported to the National Practitioners Data Bank.

To be eligible for VRP enrollment, a licensee must agree to enter into a consent agreement with the licensing board for a period of no less than three years.  The consent agreement stipulates that disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation, will be deferred so long as the licensee adheres to the terms and conditions of the agreement and maintains satisfactory progress in the program. When a licensee successfully fulfills the terms of the consent agreement and completes the VRP, no disclosure, publication or public record is made of the participant’s involvement in the VRP or the events precipitating their enrollment. 

Many licensed health care professionals who have had the misfortune to have been charged with driving under the influence or other alcohol-related offenses are often surprised to receive a letter from the PHMP inviting the professional to undergo a voluntary evaluation and to participate in the VRP.  A professional will usually receive such a letter even before the criminal charges have been resolved.  An applicant for a health care license may receive a "letter of concern" from a board if the applicant has prior convictions related to drug or alcohol use inviting the applicant to undergo a voluntary, PHMP-approved evaluation.

There is a significant amount of conflicting information on the Internet addressing whether a health care professional should participate or decline to participate in a PHMP evaluation.   The only thing that can be gleaned from the Internet regarding PHMP and its VRP program with any certainty is that the decision may have a life-long, devastating impact on a health care professional's career. 

As former legal counsel to the State Board of Medicine, the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and the State Board of Psychology among other state licensing boards, Attorney Rish has a thorough understanding of PHMP, the VRP, and the ordering of physical and mental examinations.  Attorney Rish can explain the differences between an invitation to undergo a PHMP evaluation prompted by a DUI arrest and a board issued letter of concern arising from an initial application.  Attorney Rish understands the nuances of the options a health care practitioner possesses in these two distinct situations.  Attorney Rish has observed first-hand the adverse, and permanent effect that the advice some attorneys have had on their clients' license and employment. 

There is no correct answer that is applicable in every situation to every profession.  For example, a decision by a physician, or other direct biller, to decline VRP participation may have a significantly more adverse consequence than the same decision by a nurse.  Before making such a significant decision, you should consult with an experienced professional license defense attorney, such as Attorney Rish, who can explain the potential implications of participating or declining to participate in the VRP.

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Contact Attorney Rish to answer the questions you might have following a criminal arrest, after receiving a letter of concern or other invitation to participate in a voluntary evaluation from the PHMP, or an order compelling you to undergo a physical and mental evaluation.  Attorney Rish is available to provide a low-cost, flat fee consultation twenty-four hours a day.  Attorney Rish is also available to assist health care facilities and practices with questions in this area.  Take advantage of the experience and perspective that most other attorneys are unable to offer and call or email to arrange a consultation with Attorney Rish today. 

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