The Health Professional Services Program: Is It Right For Me?—Roots Of Wisdom

Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

There are many ways in which you may encounter Minnesota’s Health Professional Services Program (“HPSP”). For example, you may have contacted HPSP on your own, or the Minnesota Board of Dentistry (“Board”) may have directed you to reach out to the program. In fact, the Board indicates that approximately 50% of individuals reach out to HPSP on their own.

We understand that there remains a considerable amount of stigma associated with substance abuse and mental health disorders. But there is no doubt that, for many, HPSP can be an extremely beneficial program that helps licensees safely practice dentistry while recovering from certain illnesses.

With that being said, you should know your rights before you enroll, as you may get locked into participating in HPSP for years. Indeed, we have seen certain HPSP contracts that were three years or more. Let’s talk about what enrolling in HPSP actually means.

How can the Board ask me to join HPSP? By statute, all health licensing boards, including the Board, may establish criteria and contract for a diversion program (HPSP) for regulated professionals who the applicable board believes may be “unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety by reason of illness, use of alcohol, drugs, chemicals, or any other materials, or as a result of any mental, physical, or psychological condition.” The Board may refer you to HPSP based on a complaint it received, a disclosure on your licensing/renewal application, or information from a third party, among other reasons.

What happens when I join HPSP? Typically, HPSP presents a contract to you that requires your full participation and agreement to abide by certain terms for a designated period of time. As indicated above, these agreements can remain in place for years if you agree to what HPSP proposes. HPSP may also require that you conduct regular toxicology screenings (if indicated), engage in workplace monitoring, and attend certain meetings, just to name a few. These requirements typically remain in place for the length of your agreement with HPSP. You may think that you have no choice other than agree to HPSP’s terms, but that is not always true.

Is HPSP right for me? Only you can truly know whether you may benefit from HPSP and whether it is the right choice for you. There are instances when some type of participation is unavoidable based on your individual circumstances. You have the right to decline participation, or seek to limit the length of your participation and/or the scope of the monitoring efforts associated with your participation, which may lead to the Board initiating an enforcement action. We have helped numerous clients avoid HPSP altogether when it was not the right fit and when the illness sought to be monitored by the applicable board did not fall within HPSP’s purview. In addition, we have been successful in limiting unnecessarily onerous terms of HPSP agreements.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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