Throw Away Nurses - page 2

by kmcguirern 5,137 Views | 17 Comments

Hi, My name is Kristin and I am a recovering addict. To make a long story short, I was caught taking narcotics from a hospital, but wasn't aware that I had been "caught". I eventually quit the job and entered into rehab for 45... Read More


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    First, congratulations on your clean time. Staying clean is IMO the hardest thing you have to do in all of this.

    Unfortunately, there is still discrimination against those in recovery. It's not always illegal discrimination either: as the ADA states, you are not covered if you are taking drugs illegally. But regardless, this discrimination can be very unfair and painful to someone who has worked so hard on their recovery.

    You also have the added strikes of a very competitive job market as well as your being out of work for a few years. Employers are in a position where they can be very selective. Even if they look past the addiction, they may view you and your skills as being somewhat rusty, especially when they have many applicants to choose from.

    Perhaps this is a chance for you to try out a new specialty or two. I'm sure you're already doing this, but apply for anything and everything you see, even if it's not your first choice. Start getting active again, then look towards transferring back towards your desired specialty area. Maybe consider a refresher course if the cost isn't too prohibitive. Also...have you considered volunteering somewhere, to both gain some recent experience (it may not be the same as acute care but something is better than nothing) as well as network and build professional references?

    As you have a recovery history, why not look into addictions/detox/chemical dependency or its close relative, psych nursing? Since you will probably have to disclose your recovery anyway d/t it being public BON knowledge, they may be more open to your application because of your personal experiences. You can relate to a lot of what these populations are experiencing. And 13 years' clean time is a strong track record, one that speaks louder about you and your recovery than most anything that could be said.

    I've encountered a fair number of recovered nurses working in both areas. Being an addict will not guarantee you a job in it or that you will even be successful at it (that's a story for a whole other post), but if you think you could work with these populations without jeapordizing (sp) your own recovery, they may be worth looking into.

    Best of luck with both the job hunt and the recovery.
    kmcguirern and VivaLasViejas like this.
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    What a disheartening story. It deeply saddens me to hear this.
    First of all, I cannot believe they put your face on the news. Regulatory policies are meant to keep the public safe NOT to punish nurses. Sometimes I think the action of nursing boards reflect more of the criminal justice system than the compassionate purpose of nursing as a profession.
    Confidentiality gives respect and dignity to all individuals regarding matters of their health. Providing confidentiality to nurses with addiction is a fundamental condition of mutual respect, a critical measure of reducing stigma, and a necessary condition for return to the job market. Stigma discredits, devalues and distances, and continues to be a barrier for individuals with addiction. Think about it: half of the US public identified that addiction was a ‘personal weakness,’ and that ‘lack of willpower’ was the main problem facing people with addiction.
    Nursing does not have a strong reputation, on the whole, for treating its members well. We have all heard that nurses ‘eat their young,’ and that ‘nursing is an army that shoots its wounded’.
    It infuriates me. What they are doing to you is plain discrimination and you should be able to fight for a position, and perhaps make a difference in other fellow nurses that may find themselves trapped in addiction.
    kmcguirern likes this.
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    Quote from kmcguirern
    Hi, My name is Kristin and I am a recovering addict. To make a long story short, I was caught taking narcotics from a hospital, but wasn't aware that I had been "caught". I eventually quit the job and entered into rehab for 45 days. After I left there, things went well and I became pregnant with my second child. Around my 7th month of pregnancy, the Grand Jury Indicted me and I appeared on the 12 o'clock news as my mother and I stared at the television in disbelief! I had already been clean for over a year at that point. I got a good attorney and eventually received Treatment in Liu of Conviction which basically means I do a period of probation (3 years in my case) and upon completion, all charges would be dismissed. I completed the 3 years of probation with the court system as well as the 3 years probation with the nursing board and eventually got my license back to full unencumbered status which means no restrictions and I can work independently If I wish. My discipline does show on my license, but after a few years, I figured I'd earn the trust back of my fellow healthcare workers and all would once again be right in the world.

    While still on probation, I was able to land 2 nursing jobs. Things went well, and I had no problems with either job. I became pregnant once again, and decided to stay at home with the baby. Over the course of a couple years, I had another child, and before I knew it, I had been out of the work force for 5 years. Ok, it was time for me to go back to work, so I began applying for available nursing positions in my area. I was certain that I wouldn't have to look for long with my experience, and it had been several years since that terrible time in my life (13 years to be exact). On 2/22/2013, It will have been exactly 13 years since I went into rehab for addiction. Which brings me to the topic of this article.

    I have literally applied to 300 nursing jobs within a 50 mile radius. Each time I apply, everything goes well and everything seems promising until It comes time for me to tell the person hiring about my drug history. At that moment, the job isgone. Some employers beat around the bush and just stop taking or returning my calls. Others, such as the company I dealt with yesterday, do not hesitate to tell me that because of my history of drug addiction, they will not hire me. Some go so far as to say that it is their "policy" not to hire nurses with a history of addiction. One Nurse Manager told me she wouldn't hire me because, and I quote, " We just haven't had much luck with people like you."

    After 13 years and having worked as an R.N. with no issues or problems of any kind, not to mention the fact that I held supervisor positions at both jobs, I believe that I have more that proven myself to my fellow colleagues. We Nurses with a history of drug addiction are covered under the American's with Disabilities Act. Yet our own profession does not honor it. I have exhausted myself looking for a job, getting a call back and getting my hopes up, just to be turned down the moment I tell them about being a recovering addict. I am at my wits end! My nursing license isn't worth the paper it is written on. There are no other jobs for me to apply to. I'm losing my home to foreclosure. We went without heat for 2 days because I couldn't afford to buy propane, and I am a Registered Nurse. I feel as though my profession has thrown me away.

    I'm finding it difficult to accept that my nursing career is over. I've begun looking into other options and possibly going back to college for a different degree. So many nurses are leaving the field, and I completely understand why. There are several problems with nursing that I can see. First of all, healthcare facilities don't feel the need to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another problem is that anyone can report any nurse for anything, and the Nursing Board has to investigate it. That nurse has to hire a lawyer (if she's smart) which costs a couple grand, meanwhile no matter the outcome her reputation is ruined. We are overworked and short staffed. Yes I said it...that terrible word management forbids us to say! According to our census...yada, yada, yada. Well, I'm here to tell you, the numbers are a crock and pts aren't being taken care of well. If anything goes wrong, there's always a poor unsuspecting nurse who's head will fit nicely on the chopping block. I have also found that the Nursing Board is extremely difficult to deal with and seem to take the approach of throwing nurses away rather that trying to figure out ways to assist the nurse so that she can remain in the field. I have found that Doctors and Nurses are among the absolute worst when it comes to understanding and recognizing addiction as a disease.

    I don't know what the answer is. Education, legal action, unionizing, change of careers? All I know is that I am a very good Nurse. I have more that proven myself. I take very good care of my pts. and I love being a nurse. I'm proud to be a nurse. I have no restrictions and have remained clean, so why have I been thrown away by my own profession?

    Written by: Just another throw away nurse
    Kristen

    This is my story exactly!!! I cant tell you how many jobs Ive had where Id shared the personal tragedy in my life, was hired anyway, doing well and then BAM! I knew it the very instant that word got out. People treated me different! Like I was invisible. They talked down to me, ignored me, etc. and eventually Id be fired. I am sick of it. NancyNurse
    kmcguirern likes this.
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    This is very unfortunate but the reality is even if you got hired you would be the first one they would look at if any narcs came up missing and you really don't need that. Good luck to you.
    kmcguirern likes this.
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    It's the point of the matter.... I have earned my right to practice as a nurse. I have experience in almost every field there is. I graduated top of my class. I deserve the respect that anyone else would get in the same position. My patients love me. I would venture to bet that I am the cleanest nurse working on any given day. I'm not afraid of being accused of any missing narcotics because I'd be innocent and ready to drop urine anytime. What I have is a disease by every definition of the word. I receive treatment my illness just like any diabetic would. They wouldn't refuse to hire a diabetic, but it's OK to refuse to hire me. I'm sick of it! I feel for any nurse that has had to deal with this issue. I am a recovering addict, and I always will be. I'm not going to hide it or keep it a secret. That would be admitting I'm ashamed of myself and I am not! It's what makes me... me. Eventually, someone will give me a job, and the rest will have let a great nurse get away because of their prejudice
    jmo1231 and TXRN2 like this.
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    I have considered legal action but I don't have time for all that. Instead, I have decided to further my degree in either Nursing or Psychology, then change the way people with addiction are viewed. These people need educated. There should be mandatory education required for all nurses. You'd be surprised how little most nurses know about addiction. I want to come back as the boss one day and say....Look at me now!
    TXRN2 and Meriwhen like this.
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    I am required by the Nursing Board to inform them. True, I could keep quiet for a while and not tell them until I go to the interview, but they will see it when they run my license and A.) I don't want it to look like I'm trying to keep secrets, and B.) I tried that for a while, but it just wasted mine and their time. I still ended up without the job. Now I just tell them right off the bat and throw in my strong positive points to it as well.
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    Thank you all so much for your kind words! It really helps to know that at least some fellow nurses out there are supportive. I feel better already!
    TXRN2 likes this.


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