Physicians, often deservedly, are looked at by the public as people who have an almost bottomless capacity to help people. This was put to test during the coronavirus pandemic, where healthcare workers put everything they had and more into their jobs in order to try and save the lives of people during the worst pandemic of our lifetime.
In reality, healthcare professionals are flesh and bone human beings, subject to the same physical and mental constraints as anyone else. Many in the field make it part of their job to obscure that fact for the sake of their patients… and often their peers.
But what happens when a physician needs help? When they’re struggling with depression, or even substance abuse (Dr. House, anyone?)? Worst of all, what conditions lead to a doctor deciding to take their own life?
The doctor’s doctor
Dr. Bill Norcross made part of his extensive career out of answering these questions, and put everything that he found into practice establishing the UCSD PACE Program in 1996. This was the first medical program aimed at the mental health of healthcare professionals. The establishment of the program broke the previously held stigma against doctors needing psychiatric help in order to perform their job.
In essence, the PACE Program was (and continues to be) a rehabilitation program for medical professionals who are suffering any number of problems that are affecting their job, whether it be substance abuse, depression, or simply being overworked. Here, doctors are able to speak openly with their peers about their problems, and receive additional help with the job. For instance, the college will procure cadavers to help a surgeon tune in their skills, if possible.
A healthy start for tomorrow’s physicians
Dr. Norcross’ dream is to aid the mental health of physicians in the field in any way possible. To help accomplish his dream, former students and mentees of Dr. Norcross, Dr. John Alchemy (who is the founder and CEO of RateFast), as well as San Diego based Dr. Bradford Stiles, have created The William A. Norcross, M.D. ’70 Fund.
The William A. Norcross, M.D. ’70 Fund aims to financially assist students attending Ursinus College, from which Dr. Norcross graduated in 1970, so that the selected recipients may focus on their studies and their peers while they are at school.
Dr. Norcross himself came from humble means and recognizes that students who have to supplement their education with working a strenuous job have a more difficult time in school. The fund aims to alleviate that for selected students.
Visit the Norcross MD Advocacy website to learn more about The William A. Norcross, M.D. ’70 Fund and how you can contribute to the education of tomorrow’s physicians. A contribution that, we believe, will help all physicians in turn.