Hope for Nurses Beginning Their Journey

07Aug16

Today I would like to share a bit about the Florida Board of Nursing’s “Intervention Project for Nurses” or IPN. It is similar to other Diversion Programs that many states have, including Wisconsin, but it has a piece to it that is a bit different…they have a statewide support groups for nurses. This interested me, what a great idea. To have nurses that have been through the same issues talk to those who are beginning their journey is a very valuable tool.

http://www.ipnfl.org/

“The mission of IPN is to ensure public health and safety by providing an avenue for swift intervention/close monitoring and advocacy of nurses whose practice may be impaired due to the use, misuse, or abuse of alcohol or drugs, or a mental and/or physical condition. IPN is authorized by Florida Statute, Chapter 464/456, to assist those nurses whose practice is affected.”

“Program Objectives…

  • To ensure public health and safety through a program that provides close monitoring of nurses who are unsafe to practice, due to the use of drugs including alcohol and/or psychiatric, psychological or a physical condition (chapter 455.261).
  • To provide a program for affected nurses to be rehabilitated in a therapeutic, non-punitive, and confidential process.
  • To provide an opportunity for retention of nurses within the nursing profession
  • To facilitate early intervention, thereby decreasing the time between the nurse’s acknowledgment of the problem and his/her entry into a recovery program.
  • To require the nurse to withdraw from practice immediately, and until such time that the IPN is assured that he/she is able to safely return to the practice of nursing.
  • To provide a cost effective alternative to the traditional disciplinary process.
  • To develop a statewide resource network for referring nurses to appropriate services.
  • To provide confidential consultations for Nurse Managers.”

Most of these objectives correlate with what we have here in Wisconsin. But like I said, the support network is different. The IPN has a vast network of resources for nurses. Florida has 150 Nurse Support Groups throughout the state. Each group has a facilitator. This is what one had to say, “I have been a Nurse Support Group Facilitator for over 12 years. I have witnessed many nurses come and go from my groups. The “magic” of the Nurse Support Group lies in the fact that a nurse who feels totally alone and full of negative self-talk and shame, secondary to his or her substance use disorder, attends group with other colleagues who have struggled with similar feelings and circumstances. There is a realization that “I am not alone anymore” and hope is born.” And one of the participants shared this, “Walking into my Nurse Support Group the first time surprised me. I will never forget the experience. My first surprise was how welcoming folks were to me. I listened as members shared a little about themselves with me, and I was amazed how similar the stories were to mine! I left that night with a sense of hope.”

I am going to write to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing (BON) to suggest we start a program like this one and I am going to offer to help get it going. I’m not sure how far I will get, but it is worth a try. I know when I first started this journey, I needed to speak to other people going through what I was. I was lucky in the sense that my counselor had another nurse she was treating with almost the exact same issues. What I didn’t have was someone who had been successful in going through the BON’s program and returning to practice. It would have been very helpful to have someone walk me through the process. As it was, I fumbled around with a lot of anxiety and some missteps. I would love to be a resource for nurses new to the BON monitoring program and new to sobriety. 12 step programs are essential in my opinion and they have worked so well for me, but they do not include anything about how to recover as a nurse. Including how to navigate the overwhelming program requirements, how to deal with the feelings of shame and remorse, how to get to a point where working as a nurse is a possibility again. I could be that resource, there are many like me that could. Let’s get together to make a difference in this lovely state of Wisconsin. If you are a nurse in recovery and would like to join me in my quest, please use the ‘Contact Us’ form and send me an email with your contact information. Together we can make a difference.

About the Author

Kristin Waite-Labott is a registered nurse and recovering addict who has firsthand experience with the challenges of addiction. She now works as the Head Nurse Coach at Veritus, a virtual treatment program for nurses with substance use and mental health disorders, and is dedicated to helping nurses overcome addiction and making a difference in the lives of others. Kristin is passionate about addressing the growing problem of addiction among healthcare professionals and encourages open discussions and action to prevent it from spreading further.

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