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The Courage to Care

How a lawsuit by a professor at Harvard Medical School can teach us about the courage to care for our patients

Many words come to mind when I think about the thousands of members of the growing therapeutic community that is Psychiatry Redefined.

Talented. Innovative. Dedicated. Open-minded. Curious.

But there’s one particular word I’ve been considering a lot lately, after reading an article in the online publication Health Exec about a Massachusetts-based doctor who is suing the State of New Jersey for the right to practice telemedicine.

That word is courageous.

The doctor is Shannon MacDonald, MD, a radiation oncologist at Mass General Brigham and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, known for her expertise in pediatric oncology.

In January 2024, Dr. MacDonald wrote an editorial in the pages of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), making her case for the normalization of expanded telehealth—and explaining the lawsuit she’s filed against the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners.

As she writes, telehealth restrictions were loosened or suspended across the nation during the pandemic, but are back on the books in nearly every state. Now, two of Dr. MacDonald’s pediatric cancer patients in New Jersey can no longer receive follow-up care from either her or their doctor in Pennsylvania.

“Giving medical advice to an out-of-state patient over the phone can put me at risk of losing my license, and, in states such as California and New Jersey, of criminal charges as well,” writes Dr. MacDonald

MacDonald points out that securing medical licenses across state lines is so onerous that less than 1% of physicians bother to pursue interstate telemedicine. The result: reduced patient access (particularly in rural areas), with no benefit to solving real-world problems.

“Military doctors have long been able to practice medicine across state lines,” MacDonald writes. “In 2018 it became legal for sports-team doctors to practice medicine during out-of-state away games. If we can make a law that allows treatment across state lines for a National Football League player, can’t we consider it for a child with a brain tumor?”

She concludes, “As a doctor, I want to provide the proper care for my patients no matter where they are, and I shouldn’t have to risk losing my license—or jail time—to do so. Because states have failed to modernize physician licensure, it’s time for the courts to weigh in.”

Much like Dr. MacDonald, you—and this community of mental health providers—are courageous.

Do You Have the Courage to Embrace Integrative Psychiatry?

Embracing an integrative and functional medicine approach to psychiatry requires a special kind of courage. It means stepping away from fixed protocols and exploring innovative research and strategies that are not always conventional. It means putting your patient’s well-being first to help them find lasting healing.

I hope you can join me and fellow trailblazing colleagues at our upcoming online conference, Psychiatry Reimagined on June 22-23. You can register for the conference here.

This is an exclusive opportunity to engage with like-minded clinicians and learn, exchange insight, and discuss the latest research in functional medicine for mental health.

I will be presenting along with five other experts who are pioneers in functional psychiatry (Louis Cady, MD, Daniel Dowd, PharmD, Georgia Ede, MD, Nancy O’Hara, MD, and Mariela Podolski, MD). We will be discussing nutritional lithium, PANS/PANDAS, de-prescribing antidepressants, genetic testing,  the ketogenic diet for mental health, and more.

These speakers, like yourself, are dedicated to building the bridge between conventional and functional medicine.

I hope to see you in June!

In health, 

James Greenblatt, MD
Founder & CMO, Psychiatry Redefined

Don’t miss this chance to expand your clinical toolbox! Register now for our online conference!

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Let’s redefine mental wellness together.

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