Healthcare Under the Influence

Dr. Charl Els and Dr. Jeremy Beach, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

April 12th 2022 11:30 am Herald Doll Room

Session Description

Substance Use Disorders / SUD are expressed within most age, cultural, economic, gender, and occupational cohorts. Physicians are not immune to the disease of addiction regardless of any special knowledge, skills, or experience they may hold by virtue of their profession. When a SUD is expressed within a health care professional, the delivery of safe, effective, competent, compassionate, and ethical care is placed at risk. This session explores the current approaches to treating addiction in the health profession and also addresses alternatives to discipline policies. It outlines the unique challenges these programs face in following a ROSC approach. Creating conditions that encourage early identification, diagnosis, detoxification, reduction of barriers to treatment, and long-term monitoring programs provide the best conditions for mitigating associated risks. Physician health programs offer some of the most favourable outcomes of all addiction treatment programs, and may offer valuable clues to other addiction programs.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will have increased:

  • Knowledge of the principles of addiction care in physicians.
  • Skills in applying the prevailing FSPHP guidelines
  • Appreciation of the unique challenges facing this population


1. Early PH. Physician Health Programs and Addiction Among Physicians. Chapter 49. The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine, 6th Edition, 2019, Wolters Kluwer.
2. Physician Health Program Guidelines: Federation of State Physician Health Programs, April 2019. URL:
3. Hegmann K, Stewart-Patterson C, Els C, Zipper R. (2018). Independent Medical Examinations and Consultations. American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) Guideline, MD Guidelines – Reed Group, 2018. URL:
4. Canadian Medical Association. CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association, 2018. Available from:
5. Rondinelli, RD, Genovese, E, Katz, RT, et al. Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 6th ed. Chicago: American Medical Association, 2008.


Dr. Charl Els is a fellowship-trained Psychiatrist, Addiction Specialist, and Occupational Physician. He serves as a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, as well as the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Alberta, Canada. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Board of Occupational Medicine. Els is the Editor of a Health Canada funded textbook on Tobacco Control and co-authored several clinical practice guidelines for the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, as well as the Railway Association of Canada. He is the principal author of the national Canadian position statement on cannabis in safety-sensitive workplaces. Els works full-time as a Senior Medical Advisor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. After 20 years in Canada, he remains an avid beginner-level snowboarder.


Dr. Jeremy Beach, MBBS, MD, FRCP(Edin), FFOM, FRCP(C), FCCP, FRCP (Lond)

Assistant Registrar, Physician Health Monitoring Program, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

Dr. Beach joined the CPSA in December 2016.  He first became interested in physician health in 1992/93 when he authored a report on The Morbidity and Mortality of the Medical Profession for the British Medical Association.  He has been on the Advisory Committee of the Alberta Medical Association Physician and Family Support Program for more than 10 years, including prior to joining the CPSA. 

Before starting work at the CPSA, he worked at the University of Alberta 2002-2016 in the division of Preventive Medicine Program where he was the Occupational Medicine Residency Program Director for almost 15 years.  He retains a position as Emeritus Professor in the Department of Medicine as well as a position as Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.