About the Certified Physician Program
The Certified Physician Program (CPP) formally trains physicians to perform all of the tasks that the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Law requires. The two main goals of the program are increasing access for injured workers to trained physicians and reducing the number of days that injured workers are out of work.
The Certified Physician Program is part of a larger program called R.E.W.A.R.D., which is an acronym for Return Employees to Work And Reduce Disabilities. The overall objective of the R.E.W.A.R.D. program is to return employees as close to their pre-injury life as possible, as soon as possible. Returning to work decreases the likelihood that they will suffer from mental and behavioral disorders associated with not working and re-introduces the health advantages of being productive members of the workforce. The R.E.W.A.R.D. program helps workers maintain work relationships, physical and financial independence, and mental and emotional health. It also helps lower costs associated with medical treatment, wage replacement, permanent disability, and workers' compensation. Both employees and employers have strong incentives to minimize the disruption caused by workplace injuries.
Physicians Play a Critical Role in Workers’ Compensation
Physicians can play a vital role in the return-to-work process by establishing the expectation from the onset of treatment that the goal for the injured worker is to make a full recovery and to return to work as soon as possible. Physicians also routinely make decisions that have a profound effect on both the injured worker and the employer. The Certified Physician Program places an emphasis on recovery through a quicker return to work; physicians are taught how to encourage injured workers to take an active role in their own recovery.
Most Physicians are not Formally Trained in Many Aspects of Workers' Compensation
Unfortunately, the processes of determining causation, maximum medical improvement, permanent impairment, modified duty, and work limitations are not taught in medical school. Most physicians, except for those on the Medical Impairment Rating Registry, have never received formal training in these matters, and some can benefit from specialized instruction. Physicians might be reluctant to accept workers' compensation patients because they are required to perform tasks for which they have not received training.
Bureau-Certified Physicians Make a Better System
The CPP is designed to teach physicians how to better fulfill their unique role in the workers’ compensation system, especially the recovery and return-to-work processes. By doing so, the CPP will help improve the experience for physicians and all other stakeholders, making it more appealing for physicians to accept workers’ compensation patients. Having more trained physicians, particularly those who specialize in areas of medicine that are currently underrepresented in the system, makes it easier for employers to provide panels of three physicians when their employees become injured. More physicians in the system also improves access for injured workers to medical care. And, since the Bureau-Certified physicians will be formally trained to set return-to-work expectations and emphasize them throughout the recovery process, both employers and employees will benefit from fewer employee workdays missed, better health and psychosocial outcomes, lower workers’ compensation costs, and fewer disability claims.
Responsibilities of a Bureau-Certified Physician
Bureau-certified physicians will agree to:
- Accept workers’ compensation patients.
- Adopt and consistently apply the CPP’s “Best Practices for Treating and Evaluating Injured Workers” and the Treatment Guidelines adopted by the Bureau.
- Abide by the program rules.
Physician Prerequisites for Bureau Certification
To be eligible for Bureau certification, a physician must:
- Possess an active and unrestricted Tennessee license to practice medicine, osteopathy, and chiropractic.
- Be Board-eligible or Board-certified in their medical specialty by a Board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Osteopathic Association or another organization acceptable to the Administrator.
- Have received approved training in the AMA Guides.
- Have received the Bureau’s training in Best Practices for Treating and Evaluating Injured Workers.
- Possess the minimum medical malpractice insurance coverage amounts enumerated in T.C.A. § 29-20-403.
- Submit current Curriculum Vitae (CV).
- Completed Application for Appointment to the CPP Registry.