PHMP Trickery And How To Avoid It

"Please have your approved treatment provider send a written statement authorizing your return to practice and contact me for permission before you begin or return to work in your profession."

Every day I receive calls from professionals with different contacts from Pennsylvania's Department of State licensing boards. One consistent question I am asked pertains to the above language in the first letter from the PHMP (the "Letter of Concern"). The letter begins with the sentence, "Information has come to our attention that you may be suffering from an impairment that prevents you from safely practicing the profession." The letter progresses on to read that if you wish to be considered for enrollment in the VRP you must do several things.

Of most concern is page 2, paragraph 4, the last sentence. Here the VRP and the PHMP push the envelope. The paragraph begins with future tenses statements of "To be considered for VRP, you must agree to cease practicing… If you and enroll in the VRP, you may not return. The last sentence of paragraph 4, however is a present tense sentence that reads:

" Therefore, please have your approved treatment provider send ____ a written statement authorizing your return to practicing, and contact me for permission before you begin or return to work in your profession . "

This sentence is a misstatement of the law. If you are a current licensed professional, this letter of concern does not require any participation in the PHMP or any other monitoring program. Your license is active status, with no restrictions. Participating in any class program or clinical setting that requires continued licensure is not halted by the "letter of concern," which can not require you to stop working or participating in school.
This present tense suggestion that a licensee is unable to work or stay in school is legally incorrect.

This sentence is a veiled threat, intending to scare individuals into enrolling in the PHMP, contacting their school or work to disclose an impairment, and lose their job. There is no statutory or regulatory basis for this present tense suggestion that you are unable to work or participate in any program before enrollment in the PHMP. This is flat wrong, inappropriate and upsetting to me.

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The present tense language of the letter of concern is a pure threat and trickery. My personal communication with both a PHMP caseworker and Kevin Knipe, Executive Director of the PHMP, confirmed my suspicion that there is no legal basis for a PHMP case worker to threaten your job or clinical program with expulsion or halting your participation if you do not enroll in the PHMP. Prior to your actual enrollment in the PHMP, you need do nothing. You do not have to tell your job or your school of the letter. You need to call a lawyer who understands what this letter actually means.

The question becomes do you enroll in the PHMP. My personal suggestion is, absolutely not. You give up concessions as a licensed professional when you sign the PHMP agreement. As well, if you enroll, then yes, you can not work or participate in your clinical program of an advanced nursing degree unless the PHMP case worker clears it. But this is after you enroll, not before. The threat to you that you can not continue your work or participation in any program unless you enroll is not true.

The sentence this page addresses is indicative of the deceptive and threatening manner within which the PHMP program operates even before you are in the program. Just imagine how they will treat you once you admit an addiction, enroll in the program and acknowledge an impairment for which the PHMP case worker must apply the Pennsylvania's professional license restrictions.

Call me at 215-665-0766 to discuss your case.