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The Impaired Physician

Am J Dis Child. 1985;139(2):146. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1985.02140040044023.
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This is an important book. It deals candidly with the subject of physician impairment, involving doctors who experience serious emotional illness, alcoholism and/or abuse of other drugs, and suicidal problems, a subject that is receiving increasing attention.

The book is divided into six parts. Part 1 includes four chapters and deals with the emotional problems of physicians. The first chapter defines their nature and extent and discusses the signs and symptoms of the impaired physician, such as overwork, increasing isolation, and depression, with characteristic failure to ask for help. Estimates of the incidence of alcoholism, drug dependence, and mental disorders in physicians are included, and the issue of physician suicide is raised.

The second chapter, written by two prominent women psychiatrists, deals with the special problems faced by women physicians. These include the paucity of satisfactory role models, negative attitudes toward women physicians, and conflicts between career and child rearing.


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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