Impaired Nurse Task Force

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Adcare Educational Institute | Unbecoming a Nurse | Maine Professionals Health Program | A Nurse’s Story of Addiction and Recovery

The Medical Professionals Health Program helps medical professionals in recovery from drug abuse and dependency. Click here for the most recent edition of their newsletter highlighting national recovery month including an update on some recent staffing changes, program information for several recovery seminars, an article on remaining motivated, and an update on some of their boards. Also included are recommended reading material and on-line resources. They invite you to feel free to send in questions, suggestions, and events you'd like to see included in future editions.

Unbecoming a Nurse Event: The Balancing Act

Watch the Paula Scimeca RN interview on the Lifetime Network's TV show The Balancing Act

Click here

Impaired Nurse Steering Committee Work

By Margaret Hourigan, EdD Chairperson, Department of Nursing St. Joseph’s College of Maine

For several years now, the Impaired Nurse Steering Committee has been seeking to develop an alternative discipline program for nurses with substance abuse problems. ANA-Maine has been represented on this committee along with the Organization of Maine Nurse Executives, Maine Society for Healthcare Human Resource Association, and other health professionals. In the Summer 2008 ANA-Maine Journal, an article by Joanne Fortin described the work of this group. Since that time, legislative actions and decisions by the Maine State Board of Nursing have laid the groundwork for allowing Maine nurses to participate in a program available to physicians and other healthcare professionals in Maine.

(3/19/2010) Maine healthcare leaders want all nurses and employers of nurses to know about chemical dependency and impaired practice. How do we best address the needs of the chemically dependent nurse while protecting the patient? To deal with this complex issue, the Steering Committee was established in 2006, led by the Organization of Maine Nurse Executives (OMNE) and the Maine Society of Healthcare Human Resources Administration (MSHHRA). It is a goal that any Maine nurse who is willing to seek chemical dependency treatment and pursue recovery should remain employable and supported in the process. To that end, we were successful in passage of LD 94, “An Act to Authorize the State Board of Nursing to Request Mental and Physical Examinations and to Establish a Nurse Health Program.” In addition, we have worked to prepare resources that can be used to learn more about chemical abuse, addiction, and impaired practice.

Included in their education and outreach efforts is the Maine Impaired Nurse Toolkit.

Maine’s Impaired Nurse Toolkit does not provide addiction counseling, intervention, treatment, or monitoring during recovery, but rather support for employers and employees who may find that they are facing the challenge of working with, or knowing an impaired nurse in Maine. This Toolkit is designed to provide education and awareness of the issues related to impaired nursing practice, a guideline for employers and employees to ensure safety for patients, protection of an employer regarding the risks associated with this issue, and to encourage advocacy and support of the impaired nurse in their process of recovery. (printed by request of Joanne M. Fortin RN, Co-Chair of the Maine Impaired Nurse Steering Committee)

AdCare Education Institute

AdCare Educational Institute, Inc. is a private, non-profit corporation, which was established in 1986. The organization is dedicated to increasing awareness, knowledge and skills in the prevention, intervention, and treatment of substance abuse and other public health issues. The agency has an excellent reputation for producing high quality training for substance abuse counselors, corrections personnel, nurses, social workers, psychologists, health educators and other allied public health care professionals on a statewide basis in both Massachusetts and Maine. Currently, the Institute is the largest substance abuse training organization in Massachusetts and one of the largest in New England.

Since its inception, the Institute has trained over 80,000 individuals at well over 2000 different training events. In an average year the agency produces over 200 training events for approximately 10,000 people. The training and educational activities have ranged from small seminars to full scale, multi-day conferences with over 150 presenters and 1,500 participants. The Institute has extensive experience in managing every aspect of training from needs assessments planning through training implementation and evaluation. Most recently, the agency has started utilizing a variety of distance education strategies such as satellite downlinking, point-to-point video conferencing and on-line learning. The institute maintains offices in Worcester, MA, Boston, MA and Augusta, ME.

Click here to visit the AdCare website

Click here for AdCare - Maine Training Calendar

Unbecoming a Nurse: Bypassing the Chemical Dependency Trap

Many of you already know about the challenges faced by nurses and other medical professionals in dealing with the stigma related to their addictions. I don't think I need to remind you that stigma is often the greatest barrier for people in need of help to end their alcohol & drug related problems. Nurses often tell us in MAAR about how crucial it is they preserve their anonymity, even when they are maintaining long-term recovery. When they don't, they may face discrimination, accusations when med. counts are off, or other stigma-related problems. Emerging alternative treatment programs are working to address the need for treatment BEFORE nurses face disciplinary action, and in fact you may remember that I emailed about the bill that Maine passed last year that established Maine's first assistance program for nurses through Medical Professionals Health Program.

Paula Davies Scimeca is a nurse and author who released a book in 2008 called Unbecoming a Nurse: Bypassing the Chemical Dependency Trap in which she talked about the need to educate and support nurses to prevent and treat alcohol and drug related problems.

I am honored to be asked to preview the book that Paula will release June 2010. Here is the clip from her website and weblink below:

FROM UNBECOMING A NURSE TO OVERCOMING ADDICTION: CANDID SELF-PORTRAITS OF NURSES IN RECOVERY is the long awaited follow-up to "Unbecoming A Nurse" which will be released in June 2010. The book chronicles the recovery of twenty-nine nurses from twenty states. These men and women come from a multitude of social backgrounds, beliefs and age groups. They represent the gamut of nursing specialties and various addictive disorders, including alcoholism, prescription drugs, illicit drugs and nicotine. Some nurses have also profiled in their story process addictions, such as compulsive gambling, eating disorders and codependency.

I wrote the following 'preview' in support of her book and am excited about her presentation in this book:

What a beautiful and powerful book that Scimeca has weaved together! In our lives as recovering people and work as recovery advocates, we know first-hand the stigma & discrimination faced by women and men who live in recovery. The ravages of stigma breed in silence behind closed doors and become real barriers for those needing help to stop addiction in its tracks. What Paula has done is shine a light in those dark places and give voice to the real-life struggles and successes of nurses who commit themselves to recovery. These stories demonstrate what we know: that people with alcohol & drug addiction can be freed through recovery and live well. The more we publicize this fact, the more individuals and families who suffer from addiction can find their way to recovery.

Deb Dettor, Coordinator, Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery

Offering Nurses a Road to Recovery from Addiction By Margaret J. Palmer, PhD Clinical Director, Medical Professionals Health Program

Maine Medical AssociationThe Medical Professionals Health Program has agreed to the challenge of making available to all licensed nurses in the state of Maine a program that understands addiction, including substance and alcohol abuse. The program team members are dedicated to providing a safe and well guided process for nurses in trouble. The goal, of course, is to return nurses to the work environment as healthy, whole people. At times, that goal can happen in short order. At other times, the addicted nurse carries a larger burden than anyone could ever anticipate, which in turn may delay a nurse’s recovery for months or years. Click the icon on the right to visit the Medical Professionals Health Program website.

Click here for the Medical Professionals Health Program Brochure


Impaired: A Nurse’s Story of Addiction and Recovery by Patricia Holloran

12046 - Impaired: A Nurse’s Story of Addiction and Recovery by Patricia HolloranUse our exclusive code "ANAMAINE" at check-out

The stress of nursing can manifest itself in many ways, one of which, unfortunately, is drug abuse. Unrelenting and insightful, Patricia Holloran’s personal account of her descent into drug addiction and subsequent recovery is a fascinating read. Assigned a powerful prescription drug for treatment of frequent migraines, Holloran quickly started to abuse it in response to mounting personal and professional tension. Resorting to stealing prescriptions from her hospital to feed her habit, Holloran hid her addiction from family and co-workers until she was busted by the Health Department's Drug Control agents. Given the chance to save her career and life, she entered a rehabilitation program and later joined the support group Nurses for Nurses. It was then that she realized that she was not alone. Honest and deeply moving, hers is a story that’s not easily forgotten.

Click here to see read other nurses with addictions reviews on this book