Two Montana psychiatrists who were stripped of their medical licenses are each seeking a second chance to practice medicine. They could learn this week whether they are successful.
Dr. James H. Peak, 51, of Billings, and Dr. Nathan Munn, 53, of Helena, have each petitioned the state Board of Medical Examiners to have their licenses reinstated when the board meets Friday.
Peak served just less than 10 months in a Seattle federal prison after pleading guilty in August 2011 to possessing child pornography. He had been a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Billings Clinic since 1994.
Since his release from prison, Peak has been working to rehabilitate his reputation and regain the trust he lost with patients, colleagues and the community when his double life was exposed.
He has been volunteering 20 hours a week at the South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center in Billings, where he is helping to update policies and procedures. He has no contact with patients.
Munn was stripped of his license to practice psychiatry in 2003 after authorities learned he was having a sexual relationship with one of his patients. In an interview with The Billings Gazette in December, Munn said he was a “finger twitch” away from pulling the trigger on the .30-06 rifle he had pointed at his temple and taking his life.
He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Today, Munn is an instructor of psychology and consciousness studies at Helena College-University of Montana. He has been developing a mental health program that trains students how to be hands-on caregivers, counselors and other types of mental health professionals. Students learn the complexities and subtleties of mental health and mental illness and how to effectively treat it.
He is working to fill a void created by a shortage of psychiatrists in the state. There are fewer than 150 in a state with 1 million people. Patients can wait anywhere from two weeks to three months or longer to see a psychiatrist. In some areas of the state, there is only one psychiatrist serving a vast, multicounty area.