Re Debi Thomas how does a ex-Olympian/Orthopedic surgeon become destitute?

Her "Go Fund Me"request story me was here.

Not that she hasn’t had difficulties but a beg video to get money to get a reality show (and she landed that deal) vs going back to work as a doctor is … kind of weird.

Divorces and stingy Medicare doesn’t seem to be a sufficient explanation for giving up your medical practice, losing custody of your kids, and living like in a broken down trailer with an alcoholic veteran with anger issues.

The wiki says she no longer has active medical licenses anywhere. All I think is that she had her license yanked or is involved with drugs or both.

Shit happens. This is why every argument that poverty is something people work at or deserve (and thus deserve no public help) is nonsense. Sometimes even the best among us trip or stumble and never quite recover, and their life becomes a bad Jerry Lewis skit where a trip turns into a three-minute falling-down routine.

It doesn’t take much for a specialized physician to lose their active licenses, certifications, etc. - one or two lawsuits or malpractice accusations, money problems, dabbling in drugs etc. and the support for their practice starts to crumble. They can’t keep up with continuing education and training, lose their board certifications, aren’t up to being a GP or junior staff member…

(Sh)It happens. But I would be interested in the specifics here.

You could try reading the HuffPost article linked in the OP.

I meant the next layer of details missing from that story. Too much is buried in one-sentence claims like “she went head to head with her colleagues.” Meaning… she was Greg House, or just an ordinary bitch professional too good to work with mortals?

I hate Iyanyla. She and Dr. Phil are the worst people on the planet. I’d be infuriated if someone insisted I felt a certain way (ashamed) just because that’s what they think I should feel. Fuck that bitch.

It sounds like Debi has personality difficulties and a tendency to partner up with men she’s incompatible with. The fact that she’s living in the Appalachian mountains somewhere makes me think she doesn’t have much family support. Perhaps she’s burned some bridges she shouldn’t have. Just because she’s a celebrity doesn’t mean she’s any more immune to life’s shittiness than anyone else.

Yes… that’s exactly my point. I get that life can be complicated but chucking a top flight career you’ve worked decades on achieving and living in horrible circumstances because you’re …frustrated? There’s a giant hole in the middle of this hard luck story.

Seems like she was impossible to work/be in a relationship with. She could easily have a career in coaching figure skating or teaching but she would have to be able to work with others. IMO she needs to deal with her emotional issues before whoring herself out to reality TV. Otherwise rinse and repeat.

There seems to be a lot left unsaid in her story. I suspect addiction and/or other mental health disorders are likely to have been involved. Said disorders often lead to financial, medical, and other misconduct.

For an orthopedist to be successful (as a general rule) they need surgical privileges at a hospital or other surgical center. Lacking that, they’re limited to office-based orthopedic work only, which these days does not pay all that well.

Lose those hospital privileges at one particular location due to bad behavior, and that fact will be widely reported within the circles of hospitals, review boards, and licensing bodies. This can well result in losing privileges at other hospitals when they hear of it, along with investigation/discipline by the state licensing board. Once that happens, it’s a long, long road back.

List every reality TV personality/star/subject who’s got all their marbles, emotional or otherwise.


Thought so. :dubious: It’s the 21s century equivalent of a sideshow, if not a straight freak show.

The difference between Ms Thomas and almost all other reality show contestant is that Thomas has a chance at redemption. She could have a successful last half of her life. Lets hope that she is offered and accepts the help she needs.

I wouldn’t wish otherwise, but it seems that among the trailer-trash and drama-queen reality star whores, there are some who are/were famous, wealthy, etc. and have the same theoretical second chance Thomas does. Can’t list many that made that step back up.

While I don’t wish ill on people for entertainment purposes, it’s not like anyone’s going to find meaningful support from exposing their shitty life’s details on the tube. (Whichever tube.) More likely to find a kind-hearted savior among those yelling JUMP! JUMP! down on the sidewalk.

She has an MD and an Olympic medal. Her prospects are quite good. Hopefully a friendly voice from her past will step up to help. :wink:


Poking around the website for the Virginia Board of Medicine, she is tagged “violation but no sanction.” From what I’ve gleaned of the board’s other cases, my guess would be that they were investigating her for drugs or billing fraud, and she agreed to let her license expire.

Standard ‘rule of thumb’ in the ER is “Drugs until proven otherwise” but usually there is some kind of info on that via the internet, on any Physician who gets into that kind of trouble. It’s not something they are able to hide. Medical Boards do not allow it as far as I know.
My gut says she is possibly with some mental disorder and with what I have seen x 38 yrs she resembles people with bipolar disorder (BPD), but I am NOT making any INFORMED diagnosis and NO diagnosis at all. I do know these BPD folks, as they become ‘regulars’ in the ER. They are often UNdiagnosed or MISdiagnosed and many of them will not take their meds AS PRESCRIBED because the side effects alter how they LIKE to feel (high highs and low lows) and how often they ‘cycle’ between those is also effected by the meds. Some stay on the meds for months or a year then stop them for a myriad of reasons and they are right back to square one in a week or so. It’s a never ending circle for BPD and also a ‘circus’ of trial and error in finding them a medication ‘cocktail’ that works for them. Many never find a combo that truly works or they just don’t stay on the meds.
I know what Medicare pays doctors and although it IS shameful and sad, ALL specialties are paid depending on the diagnosis codes and kind of work done, sort of a flat rate per visit depending on those. At least in Ortho she HAS a continual income, so I don’t even buy her excuses for one second. Like someone else commented on, she could easily teach or mentor skating for $$ if she wanted to. Something(s) else is at the base of this sad story.
I wonder where her Mom is? I remember from her skating days that she HAS/HAD a Mom who she was close to. BPD also is VERY wearing on families and friends, so that also factors into MY personal opinion that BPD might be at the base of her issues…again only my thoughts on her dilemma. I wish she would get some help aside from a reality TV show, no matter what is going on in her life.

If she were a former classmate, colleague, or friend who asked you for advice on regaining her medical license and resuming practice, what would you say?

Is there some medically-related work you’d trust someone with her record to do?

I’m thinking that her most immediate need is some kind of job – she can deal with the bedbugs, the violent alcoholic partner, etc, when she’s not worrying about where her next meal is coming from.

Her Olympic medal and board certification tell us that she has (or had) the basic tools to accomplish things few of us can match.

You can also cast that in the past tense and it’s legitimate to let the “WTF?” question stand.

I mean, she’s one step from homeless and hooked up with a guy with severe issues. You don’t fall THAT far without working at it a little. Life can undercut you pretty badly, but a famous sports name, Olympian, Stanfoo grad and board-certified specialist physician really should have “hit bottom” a number of levels up from that.

I don’t know what her ‘record’ is.

Say she’s clean and sober at present, and properly treated for any other mental health disorders, her first step is to get licensed where she wants to practice.

Then it’s finding a job she’s qualified for.

I know more than one orthopedic surgeon who couldn’t return to surgery. Some found work doing occupational medicine, or being an Independent Medical Examiner for workman’s comp claims, or both. Industrial medicine is also a possibility.

She’s not really qualified to delivery primary care, beyond doing basic things like insurance physicals (boring!). So she could go back to retrain in a different residency, like Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, psychiatry or others.

Or she could seek an orthopedic colleague who would be willing to mentor her back up to appropriate skill level in orthopedics.

All challenging tasks, but doable.

Pretty sad; I wasn’t aware of how much of a mess she was in now.

Her first husband (whom she married just after the Calgary Olympics) was a high-school classmate of mine. I haven’t spoken with said classmate since the two of them were married (and divorced), so I have no idea of his POV of her now, or if they have any contact with each other.

For a physician to be living this way, I’m guessing that drugs, alcohol, and/or mental health issues have to be involved.

In short, she’s living in a vermin-infested mobile home with her abusive boyfriend, and she lost custody of her 13-year-old son. In addition, she does not appear to have a medical license, anywhere. I looked up her Virginia license; it expired in 2014 and action was taken against it, but the nature of that action was not available online.