After 2.5 years in recovery, just landed a nursing job!!!

Nurses Recovery


I've been in recovery and in a BON agreement for 2.5 years, and I finally found a job!!! It has been a long and hard road, and after many rejections I have started a new job in a new field, and I really like it. After 2 years with the mindset that no one will hire me with my restrictions, after countless unanswered or rejected applications and interviews, I was about to give up. Then I decided I will nurse again. Period. I gave up my doubts and decided to bypass the applications and unanswered phone calls, so I packed up a folder with my resumes and went out with the plan to go to every facility, clinic, Dr office, etc until I found a nursing job. I was hired after the first stop. I went unannounced and asked to speak with the DON, (I did my homework and got the names of hiring managers and decision makers at the facilities I planned to visit), and told her who I was and why she should hire me. She listened. And added that I had a lot of guts and she liked that :) I hope if anyone here is in a similar place you can find hope that YES, you WILL nurse again, sometimes we have to think outside the box.

Now Ive hit the next bump in the road and am hoping for some info from people who have been there, done that or may just have some insight on how to handle a difficult situation. My NM agreed to keep my BON stuff confidential. However, I'm pretty sure someone has found out about my history and has spread it to others. Ive only been there for two weeks, and so far everyone has been great and helpful and excited to have me there, until 2 days ago. Suddenly, Im given the cold shoulder from previously friendly coworkers, another made blatantly rude and condescending remarks about addicts and a nurse everyone raves about being awesome and a great resource is very cold and standoffish to me.

Whats difficult is I really want to succeed here, but Im new to this field and I need education and training to be the great nurse I can be. So suddenly and (so soon) Im being scrutinized and judged in a way not shown to other new hires, and I dont yet have the skills to earn their respect as a great nurse. Im not afraid of my history, its mine. Its real and it happened and Ive worked incredibly hard for my recovery and my career. I just wish this didnt come out so soon.

So how do I handle the situation? Nothing has changed about my plan to work hard, learn everything I can and be the best nurse I can be, but what about the attitudes? The workplace politics? The gossip? Im not sure who all knows, but Im not about to share the details with people who have no need to know. And Ive never been good at "people" politics.

Im a friendly, likeable person. I work well and I work hard. How do I deal with the nurses who would rather see me lose my career?

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired.

In the past few years I've dealt with many nurses in recovery and the nurses who can "let it all hang out" when they get back to work do better. They don't have to waste a lot of emotional energy keeping it secret. And if you're all that you believe yourself to be, what are they going to say? "She's a good nurse and she's in recovery. Wow." Also, don't overestimate how much time they spend thinking about you.

Specializes in Impaired Nurse Advocate, CRNA, ER,.

I agree with subee...the more "secrets" we have, the more stress we have to deal with. Recovery is stressful enough without the added pressure of wondering if someone discovered my "secret", who they may have shared it with, and what they're saying about me. Have you discussed your concerns with your manager or the DON?

subee also made a good point...other folks don't always pay as much attention to us as we think. I heard a great description of how many of us in recovery are emotionally "sunburned", meaning we overreact to perceived issues when there may actually be no issue (or the issue isn't as bad as we perceive it to be). Have you discussed this with your sponsor and your home group? Are you in a nurse support group or a caduceus group? They might be helpful in sharing their experiences with similar situations.

In my own life, my story is pretty much an open book. I am open to questions and also provide educational programs about the disease of addiction and the process of recovery. Fear and stigma arise from and are fed by ignorance. The more your colleagues know, the less likely they are to fear you. Now, I'm not naive. There will be folks who continue to judge you negatively despite all the education in the world. Look up 'stupidity' on Wikipedia. Here's a brief quote from the article:

James F. Wells, Ph. D., in his book, "Understanding Stupidity,"[10] defines stupidity thusly, "The term may be used to designate a mentality which is considered to be informed, deliberate and maladaptive." Dr. Welles distinguishes stupidity from ignorance; one must know they are acting in their own worst interest. Secondly, it must be a choice, not a forced act or accident. Lastly, it requires the activity to be maladaptive, in that it is in the worst interest of the actor, and specifically done to prevent adaption to new data or existing circumstances. According to Dr. Welles, mental schemas, which help us adapt to our environment and process new ideas, can also, simultaneously, be maladaptive: "However adaptive a schema may be, it will also be maladaptive to the extent that built-in biases compromise data so that perceptions will conform to expectations and desires. In addition, a schema's behavioral program (which presumably was adaptive when formed) might become maladaptive as conditions change. If fundamental conditions change significantly, maintaining a schema may be maladaptive. On the other hand, altering behavior to fit fantasies may also be maladaptive. Just when and how much change is needed are very subjective matters, and the schema is inherently biased about maintaining both its integrity and existence."[10]

This discusses how an adaptive behavior that served a useful purpose when developed can become maladaptive over time. Perhaps some of your colleagues have had bad experiences in the past with someone with the disease of addiction (parent, partner, friend, child, or colleague). When we form a negative view of a disease as a result of negative experiences and a lack of knowledge, the adaptive behavior(s) developed may lead to negative consequences for ourselves and others around us. This goes for our colleagues without the disease as well as ourselves. While this can be excused to an extent in someone who is not a health care professional, it's unprofessional and ethically unacceptable. Unfortunately, the nursing profession (as well as other professions such as medicine, pharmacy, etc.) has done an exceptionally poor job of educating nursing students about the disease and it's treatment. After dealing with this disease and the profession for over 20 years (17 clean and sober), it's pretty clear the recovering nurses out there are going to have to be the motivating factor if we hope to eliminate the ignorance regarding addiction and recovery, and decrease the stigma associated with it.

Good luck and keep us posted.


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