Last Updated: Jan 23, 2023
The charitable division of the Pennsylvania Medical Society is the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1954 with a mission to provide programs and services for the physician community that improve the well-being of Pennsylvanians and sustain the future of medicine.
The Foundation focuses on providing access to medical school education; peer monitoring for physicians who suffer from substance use disorders, mental health issues and behavioral concerns; and unbiased clinical competency assessment services for physicians through its three different branches: Student Financial Services, the Pennsylvania Physicians Health Program, and the LifeGuard ® program.
The infrastructure of the Foundation is rooted in nine core values, each of which fulfills the goals of its mission: Quality, Integrity, Respect, Transparency, Diversity, Access, Stewardship, Innovation, and Confidentiality.
Foundation programs are made possible by philanthropic support from individual donors, hospitals, and organizations, with donations making up more than 41 percent of the operating budget.
In addition, the Foundation provides bookkeeping and financial service management to more than 30 associations and specialty societies. Over the course of nearly 70 years, the Foundation has provided funding for more than 4,400 students and over $19 million in financial assistance.
Through its three branches, the Foundation continually strives for broader support in order to maintain outreach efforts to help more physicians, and future physicians, ultimately ensuring a vibrant future for the Pennsylvania medical community.
Student Financial Services
Virginia Hall, MD, who serves as the Chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees, was one of the first to benefit from the Foundation’s Student Financial Services program. “I was a scholarship recipient for my first year of medical school and received $1500, which is what tuition cost back then. I then received Foundation loans for subsequent years. I am very grateful, because I would not have been able to go to medical school without those.”
Student Financial Services administers annual scholarships to deserving medical students, as well as offering affordable loans for medical school at favorable interest rates. These scholarship opportunities are made possible by generous contributions from PAMED, county medical societies, physician members, and other medical community partnerships.
In order to qualify for both scholarships and loans, recipients must be residents of the state who are enrolled full time at an accredited Pennsylvania medical school and are a registered student member of PAMED.
Physicians Health Program
Since its establishment in 1987, the Pennsylvania Physicians Health Program (PA PHP) has assisted more than 4,500 Pennsylvania physicians and other health care professionals struggling with substance use disorders, mental health diagnoses, or behavioral concerns through monitoring and advocacy. PA PHP offers confidential, reliable services for physicians who may be experiencing addiction, physical or mental challenges, or work-related stress impacting their ability to practice safely. “Doctors are very valuable, and if you hit an unexpected speed bump, the PA PHP can provide support and help you to preserve your career,” says Dr. Hall.
The program is nationally regarded, operating one of the largest and most fully developed physicians’ health programs in the country. Through cooperative working relationships with the State Board of Medicine, the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, the Board of
Dentistry and Podiatry, and the Pennsylvania Medical Society, PA PHP provides individuals with personalized approaches tailored to their specific needs. After the assessment, remediation, and treatment phases, a comprehensive, long-term monitoring system is implemented for each participant. The result is a population of medical professionals who have the tools and confidence they need to stay in recovery, restore their careers, and remain essential members of the health care community.
The practice of medicine is a complex field, and sometimes situations arise where clinicians need an objective assessment in order to demonstrate medical knowledge and skills. PAMED devised a solution to this issue through the Foundation’s LifeGuard ® program. LifeGuard ® offers customized plans designed to facilitate higher performing physicians, promote patient safety, and enhance the quality of medical care to ensure comprehensive physician competence.
LifeGuard ® functions by evaluating a physician’s knowledge and clinical abilities in relation to medical responsibility through assessments with an independent, unbiased team. The program serves as an invaluable resource for physicians who require an assessment of quality of care, practice monitoring, re-entry or reinstatement, fitness for duty, and late career challenges.
I am proud of the fact that we are fair and that we help students, physicians, and other health professionals at critical points in their career. Sometimes it is allowing them to start a career, sometimes it is helping them preserve a career, and sometimes it is bettering that career,” shares Dr. Hall. “I am grateful for the Foundation because without them we would not be able to do what we do.”