Impaired Student Policy

It is the responsibility of the profession of Medicine to protect the safety of patients as well as to promote the wellbeing of physicians. In this context the College of Medicine extends this responsibility to medical students. A student with a substance abuse or addiction problem may have impaired judgement and skills and be unable to provide safe and competent care for their patients. Therefore, all members of the academic community must address abuse and addiction as it affects students in the College of Medicine. This policy is based on the following assumptions:

  • Students impaired by substance abuse or addiction compromise their educational experience, the safety of patients, and the integrity of the profession.
  • Students impaired by substance abuse or addiction compromise their health but can be successfully treated and can return to a productive level of functioning.
  • The College of Medicine is committed to the identification of abuse, intervention, referral for treatment and monitoring of recovering individuals.
  • Students impaired by substance abuse or addiction should receive an opportunity for treatment in lieu of, before or in concert with disciplinary action.

The purpose of this policy is to provide a procedure to assist medical students with impairment due to substance abuse or addiction. The role of the College is to identify students with these problems and refer them to the Kentucky Physician's Health Foundation — Impaired Physician Program for intervention, assessment, and treatment by knowledgeable and experienced substance abuse professionals.

Each case will be addressed on an individual basis and coordinated by the Deans for Student Affairs in concert with the director of the Kentucky Physician's Health Foundation (formerly known as the Impaired Physician Program). Upon assessment, depending on the degree of impairment and the impact on performance, a treatment plan will be developed which may impact the student's participation in the academic program. A student who is identified early and addresses the problem on an outpatient basis may have no interruption in his or her education while another student may need significant inpatient treatment requiring a period of time away from the academic setting. Time frames for completion of student academic programs may have to be adjusted depending on the treatment plan.

The administration and faculty of the College of Medicine will provide support for the recovering student by accommodating the recommendations made by the treatment provider. Every effort will be made to reduce stigma that the recovering person may experience due to any necessary restriction or actions that may be instituted. Standards of confidentiality will apply to all phases of the process.

If a student does not consent to participate, or once evaluated does not fully comply with the treatment plan, the College is obligated to pursue the issue under the Health Science Student Professional Behavior Code.

NOTICE: This material is the official version. Should it need to be updated a new version with a date specifying its effectiveness will be produced and posted with links back to this prior version. Although other printed or electronic copies of this document may exist, the user is advised to refer to and rely upon this official version of this material when making significant decisions or judgments.