Throw Away Nurses
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?