The Medical Board of California has made changes to its physician license application aimed at removing stigma around getting diagnosed and treated for conditions that may impair practice if left untreated.

The new language changes the way physicians are asked to disclose impairments (physical, mental, substance abuse, etc.) that may impact their ability to practice safely.

The California Medical Association (CMA) has advocated for changes in the application language out of concern that questions were targeting specific impairments and conditions and unnecessarily stigmatizing physicians who seek treatment. In 2019, the CMA Board of Trustees adopted policy requesting that the Medical Board of California amend its licensing application to align with recommendations from the Federation of State Medical Boards, which recommended that state licensing boards evaluate whether it is necessary to include probing questions about a physician applicant’s mental health, addiction, or substance use, and whether the information these questions are designed to elicit in the interests of patient safety may be obtained through means that are less likely to discourage treatment-seeking among physician applicants.

CMA has worked hard to remove stigmas associated with mental health issues and has led efforts to encourage physicians to think more about their own well-being. Working in collaboration with Stanford University, CMA’s new Well Physician California program will promote physician wellness across California. It will be the most comprehensive state-level effort in the country, led by nationally recognized leaders on physician wellness who bring academic expertise, as well as hands-on experience building successful organizational initiatives to improve physician fulfillment and well-being.

You can learn more about CMA’s efforts on physician wellness here.

The changes will be implemented on the paper application within a few weeks. Changes to the online application are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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