Physicians Advisory Committee: Confidential Support for Physicians

Oakland BridgeRecognizing that physicians sometimes need assistance dealing with problems that affect their well-being or their ability to practice medicine, the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA) formed the first medical society committee of its kind to meet that need in 1968. Now called the Physicians Advisory Committee; it functions on a completely confidential basis, providing support and assistance to physicians who are affected by substance abuse, or an emotional or physical problem.

How the Program Works

The committee welcomes inquiries or requests for assistance from anyone concerned about a physician: spouses, friends, patients, other health care workers, colleagues, anyone else concerned, or most importantly, the affected physician. Through this committee, the medical profession helps its members maintain productive personal and professional lives in an effective and non-punitive manner.

Physicians from all medical specialties and localities within Alameda and Contra Costa Counties volunteer their time and expertise to serve on the Physicians Advisory Committee to assist physicians affected by a debilitating addiction or emotional or physical impairment. They seek only to provide help and support, not to judge or censure. Upon receiving a request for assistance from a physician, or someone who has observed that a physician needs assistance (for example, a spouse, colleague, or other health care worker, or friend), the committee will provide confidential help and support. Committee members are experienced in “intervention”, the process whereby the individual is approached and encouraged to obtain proper help or treatment. They can direct physicians to rehabilitation sources.


Information and Support for Medical Staffs

Drawing from its experience and expertise, the Physicians Advisory Committee also makes itself available to assist hospital medical staffs in forming local committees to provide similar support on a more localized level. The committee can: provide information to the medical staff regarding the responsibilities and legal obligations of such a committee; provide “how to” programs on establishing a confidential mechanism within the medical staff; and provide educational programs, such as mock “interventions” to demonstrate how to approach a physician who has a problem. The committee is also available to provide presentations on physician wellbeing issues to your medical staff or members of your wellbeing committee.

For additional information or assistance, call the ACCMA at (510) 654-5383 and ask for information regarding the Physicians Advisory Committee.

Physician Burnout

According to the American Medical Association, about half of all practicing physicians experience work-related burnout. Recent studies show a substantial rate of burnout across physician specialties, as well as an increasing disparity in burnout among doctors compared to the general workforce.

To help promote professional satisfaction and address the issue of burnout, the Alameda–Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA) is providing tools — offered through workshops, seminars and resource guides — to reduce stress, decrease emotional fatigue, and prevent physician burnout before it begins.

The ACCMA Physicians Advisory Committee also provides confidential support to those experiencing burnout, damaging addiction or emotional or physical impairment. Its members offer presentations to local health care systems and staffs, assistance to individuals creating similar well-being committees, information on rehabilitation services, and more. Call the ACCMA at (510) 654-5383 for more information. Inquiries or requests for assistance are welcome.

ACCMA Resources



  • Seminar presentation: Reclaim the Joy of Medicine — Ruth Haskins, MD
  • Seminar presentation: Physician Stress Reduction and Burnout Prevention — Frank Staggers, Jr., MD
  • Seminar presentation: Promoting Professional Satisfaction and Preventing Burnout — Suja Mathew, MD
  • Seminar slides: Promoting Professional Satisfaction and Preventing Burnout

Other Resources

  • Preventing Burnout: Individual and Organizational Intervention – California Medical Association (on-demand webinar)
  • Steps Forward – American Medical Association (web module)
  • Combating Burnout, Promoting Physician Well-Being - Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) (free webinar)
  • After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Physician Residency/Fellowship Programs – American Medical Association (PDF)
  • Factors Affecting Physician Job Satisfaction and Their Implications – RAND/AMA research (PDF)
  • Doctors: Healthcare failing to Stem Physician Burnout – Healthcare Finance article (Word)
  • Avoiding Burnout: Finding Balance Between Work and Everything Else – American College of Gastroenterology (podcast)

Litigation Stress

The Litigation Stress Committee of the Alameda-Contra Costa Medical Association (ACCMA) provides moral and emotional support to physicians who are experiencing stress related to medical malpractice or a medical board investigation. It is confidential peer review committee of the ACCMA, and the supportive services offered by the program are intended to complement the support physicians receive from their personal legal counsel and professional liability insurance company.

Any physician who is threatened with or sued for malpractice, or whose license to practice medicine is being challenged by government regulators, may request a consultation with a member of the ACCMA Litigation Stress Committee  by contacting the ACCMA 510-654-5383. The primary purpose of the meeting or phone consultation is to inform the subject physician of ways to cope with the stress of litigation or investigation and to apprise the physician of support resources available from the ACCMA, the physician's liability insurer and from other sources. LSC members provide moral and emotional support, but are not permitted to discuss details of the case, give legal advice, or make recommendations about the management of the liability claim, and may not agree to testify as an expert on the colleague's behalf or participate in other peer review activities regarding the physician's case.

To learn more about the services provided by the Litigation Stress Committee, please review the brochure and flyer below. You are welcome and encouraged to reproduce these materials and distribute them to any physicians or loved ones who may benefit from these services.