Difficulty obtaining a medical license after psychiatric diagnosis

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by Siamese, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Siamese

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    I am currently in my intern year & was very unhappy in my program. I have been very stressed out with work as well as family issues. My husband even suggested that I may be depressed. I continued to function, but one day felt overwhelmed and visited a psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with major depression and I am now on an antidepressant. I have been taking it for a couple months now. I recently, at the urging of my psychiatrist, requested medical leave from my program that was granted for a period of no greater than 6 months. For now, I'm taking time to take care of myself. I feel better, but I do not wish to return to my program. My husband is very supportive. I most likely will not be returning to this program after I come off from leave. I plan on taking the rest of the year to rest (fortunately I took Step 3 months ago and passed), transferring and doing a transition year somewhere else, getting my license, and working in a non-clinical setting. I haven't told any of my colleagues or program director my plans. But, my program director remarked a few days ago about difficulties to near impossibility of getting a medical license if you've been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition requiring treatment as well as if there are time gaps/periods of inactivity/medical leave during residency training. Is this true? If so, would I even need a medical license to work for a consulting firm, pharmaceutical company, or in a non-clinical setting?
     
  2. Blue Dog

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    Not true, at least as far as having a history of psychiatric illness (generally speaking).

    Clinical jobs for physicians who have not completed residency are limited. Non-clinical jobs probably won't require an active license. The gaps in your training will almost certainly require explanation.
     
    #2 Blue Dog, Dec 18, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  3. dragonfly99

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    OP, that is not true. You will need to disclose on applications for licensure that you were treated for depression, and they'll ask you why you were out of residency for several months, which you'll have to explain. There are plenty of folks who have received psychological or psychiatric treatment for things like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. who practice. There are people who had to go to rehab for EtOH or drug use who are allowed to practice.

    As far as needing a license, for some jobs you do. I know it's probably not what you want to hear, but as far as getting many nonclinical jobs, it's still helpful (or even necessary) to have done some sort of residency. To be a drug rep or something, I don't think you'd need a license, but for a lot of the government jobs (CDC, NIH, FDA, etc.) you really need to have completed a residency of some sort.

    It sounds like you have a while to think about this. If you really don't want to go back to any kind of residency, I'd think you could maybe get some sort of degree like M. Health Admin. or MBA, and just work in the business world. You can always put out some feelers and see what response you get, if you just want to work for a drug company or something. Maybe they would hire you without any residency.

    It sounds like maybe your residency wasn't a good fit, and/or you were just so depressed that it made the inevitable intern year suckiness 100% worse. Maybe if the depression is fixed you wouldn't mind keeping on with the residency, and/or could switch to a different one. It can be kind of hard to switch residencies without the support of your current PD, but maybe he would agree to help you.
     
  4. DonStracci

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    I would think that there are plenty of physicians who have been treated for depression or anxiety, and still maintain their licenses. I believe the licensure application in my state says something like "have you been treated for a psychiatric illness that has affected your ability to perform your job duties" or something like that.

    I've wondered about this though... if a physician has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but is successfully treated with medication, can they still practice?
     
  5. QuantumX

    QuantumX Spinning
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    This is absolutely false and your PD is a tool for suggesting that.

    First off, I hope you feel better. Many residents have been treated for depression/anxiety and have even taken time off. Yes, most states' license application forms list questions such as : "Have you ever been treated for depression or "major psychiatric illness". But no, it is not a hindrance to being licensed in the future, anymore SLE is.

    I'm also fully convinced now, by the way, that is very difficult to diagnose a resident, naturally under stress, with depression. Most of this is adjustment disorder. You know, adjustment to sleep deprivation, hectic schedules, malignant and unhealthy lifestyle.

    I would advise to talk to more people like a mentor in your program or an attending WHOM YOU TRUST but not your PD about this, but if this was bad enough to have you take time off, I would definitely not go back unless you feel able and willing to do it.

    Wish you the best.
     
  6. Winged Scapula

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    QuantumX is correct - I've never heard of a state denying a license to someone with clinical depression, especially if its been treated.

    Frankly, whether its an adjustment disorder or depression the number of resident and attending physicians who are being treated (or should be) is staggering. Depression runs high in this field.

    Licensing bureaus worry more about psychotic disorders, drug and alcohol abuse or anything that harms your ability to function. You will have to report it to those states that ask, but unless you are significantly disabled, I wouldn't worry about getting a license.
     
  7. gutonc

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    This can not be emphasized enough. I agree that depression, controlled w/ meds/therapy/ECT/whatever is not a reason for most states to deny you a license. What they will deny you a license for is not disclosing the dx and it coming to light another way. If asked, answer honestly and explain as needed.
     
  8. michaelrack

    michaelrack All In at the wrong time
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    I agree with the other posters that neither a diagnosis of depression nor time away from medicine will make it impossible or even very difficult to get a medical license.

    Either situation will most likely require an explanation sent to the board, and in the case of psychiatric illness perhaps a letter from your psychiatrist. Perhaps a little extra cme would be required in the case of time away from medicine.

    However, the combination of the 2- depression and time away from medicine due to depression- increases the difficulty of getting a medical license significantly. Expect to have to submit a letter from your psychiatrist and perhaps also from an independent examiner. Continued f/u and periodic updates from your psychiatrist to the medical board may be required.
    There is a lot of state to state variability

    good luck
     
  9. michaelrack

    michaelrack All In at the wrong time
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    Below is the response I posted to your question in the Practicing Physicians Forum:

    "I agree with the other posters that neither a diagnosis of depression nor time away from medicine will make it impossible or even very difficult to get a medical license.

    Either situation will most likely require an explanation sent to the board, and in the case of psychiatric illness perhaps a letter from your psychiatrist. Perhaps a little extra cme would be required in the case of time away from medicine.

    However, the combination of the 2- depression and time away from medicine due to depression- increases the difficulty of getting a medical license significantly. Expect to have to submit a letter from your psychiatrist and perhaps also from an independent examiner. Continued f/u and periodic updates from your psychiatrist to the medical board may be required.
    There is a lot of state to state variability

    good luck"
     

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