Throw Away Nurses

  1. 5
    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 is gone. 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
    VivaLasViejas, Meriwhen, TXRN2, and 2 others like this.

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  2. 17 Comments...

  3. 1
    Have you tried legal action considering that they are directly telling you that the reason for not being hired is d/t your disease?? It's a blatant violation, and very bold of them to just say so!

    In the same note I feel your pain, I'm just now starting my dog and pony show for the BON....
    PRICHARILLAisMISSED likes this.
  4. 6
    I am so sorry you are going through this.....and congratulations on our sobriety!

    The employment market is really bad right now. Hospitals are not hiring. There is a plethora of nurses out is estimated that unemployment for nurses especially new grads is as high as 47%. The are multiple applicants for every position. Try a LTAC...or Long Term Acute care. Some facilities are requiring that nurses out of the work force more that 5 years to take a is not an employee market.

    To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working.

    Anyone who is currently using drugs illegally is not protected by the ADA and may be denied employment or fired on the basis of such use. The ADA does not prevent employers from testing applicants or employees for current illegal drug use.

    ADA - Your Employment Rights as an Individual With a Disability

    Even with the ADA....esentially the employer still has all the control. I have a physical disability due to an auto-immune disease. I was dumped and abandoned by my lont term employer and cannot even get hired to a home phone triage job....after 34 years of nursing. Go figure.

    I wish you the best ((HUGS))
  5. 3
    Are you sure you have to disclose it? Yes, they may find it on the routine check of your license, but they would also find the thirteen years and the unencumbered license. Perhaps you could ask the board of nursing for a letter that you could attach to any application and bring a copy with you to interviews; have, in hand, references from the jobs you had in the meantime.

    This sucks, it really does. Some education is in order. I'd tell that person who said they didn't have much luck with "people like you" that in that case they haven't had anyone like you, and hand them the letters. I'd even do it now, however long it's been since they turned you down. They might have a change of heart, or they might be willing to negotiate a probationary period; offer to give random UAs as often as they want, whatever it takes because you have a family to support. Can't hurt.
  6. 3
    It might just be that the area where you are seeking employment is already saturated with nurses looking for jobs, and they can be extra picky. I say this because I know of two nurses at my hospital that went thru this~ one was recently hired but still cannot work independently, and the other one has a past history. I also work prn at another hospital, and they recently hired a nurse who still has a few months to go before she can work independently. Good luck, dear.
  7. 1
    Ma'am, in this job market, interviewers have so many applicants for any given position that many scan them looking for ANYTHING negative so that they can put in in the "No chance in ****" pile" so they can move on to the next one. In your case, your (now distant, admittedly) drug history seems to be enough to do it.

    It's like that in just about all professions. A fellow student applied for a job at the Rebel gas station, and wasn't even interviewed because-and I'm dead serious-they were "Not considering hiring anyone with less than 5 years customer service AND register experience!" I Kid you not. This was for a job at a GAS STATION! One of the security companies wants their applicants to have a degree in criminal justice, and not for a managerial position either, but for a $9.00/hr job walking around lot without even a night stick.

    While I'd never advise anyone not to change careers-as they know their own situation better than I do-I would tell you that until the economy improves, your next chosen position will likely be the same way.

    Good luck in whatever you do. And for the record, I do believe you are being treated unfairly.
    kmcguirern likes this.
  8. 2
    Maybe I don't know the rules, but why do you have to tell a potential employer about your drug history? If you have an unencumbered license and have finished rehab why must you tell them?
    kmcguirern and VivaLasViejas like this.
  9. 1
    Quote from CapeCodMermaid
    Maybe I don't know the rules, but why do you have to tell a potential employer about your drug history? If you have an unencumbered license and have finished rehab why must you tell them?
    In Ohio (where I think OP is from according to her profile), if you were to look up her license on the BON website, it would say in red "previous discipline", even after they were allowed to work without restrictions anymore.
    Last edit by DidiRN on Feb 16, '13
    kmcguirern likes this.
  10. 1
    Quote from DidiRN
    In Ohio (where I think OP is from according to her profile), if you were to look up her license on the BON website, it would say in red "previous discipline", even after they were allowed to work without restrictions anymore.
    Yeah...that's the unfortunate thing about the Ohio Board of Nursing. Ohio even lists how many attempts an applicant has had to take the NCLEX or any exam for advanced practice credentialing. Several of my classmates failed their first attempt and the whole world can see it for ever and ever. Every other state I've been licensed in does not do that...

    The only thing I can think of - on most job applications there is a paragraph you read and click a box to agree you understand / or certify that by typing your name in the space it acts as if you had signed your name in pen. It goes on and on about how misrepresentation and/or lying on the document is grounds to disqualify your application and/or terminate employment if you were hired before they find out...

    Wishing the original poster much luck! It's a rough job market! That's why I left Ohio (but being a young college grad with only a dog dependent on me, I have a lot of freedom in that regard).
    kmcguirern likes this.
  11. 1
    Have you considered looking for a job in education? Maybe you could train CNA's or teach at a community college? You wouldn't be handling drugs then so maybe an employer would feel better about it.
    kmcguirern likes this.

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