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What is the chance for a viable career after a discipline? I've heard that a nurse cannot live down a mistake and nurses tend to get a lifelong sentence. Is this true?

Wednesday April 3, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

What is the chance for a viable career after a discipline? I have worked in healthcare for more than 30 years and was an RN for 20 years, before being disciplined in two states. I was disciplined mainly for a charge of operating while intoxicated ó the result of a relapse with alcohol after a long-term sobriety. My goal is still to be a travel nurse after my younger son graduates and Iím an empty nester. Because of difficulty getting jobs now and obtaining different state licensure, should I give up my dream? Maybe I'm too naÔve, but I thought we all get a second chance. I've heard that a nurse cannot live down a mistake and nurses tend to get a lifelong sentence. Is this true?

Ashley



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Ashley,

There is no doubt that some employers prefer not to hire a nurse licensee who has been disciplined by a state board of nursing. This is especially so when a chemical use disorder is the reason for the discipline.

As you know, maintaining one's sobriety is a lifelong obligation, so aftercare and continued support to maintain that status is an important factor for you as a person and as a professional. Adhering to this life-long obligation can help with obtaining employment.

Although it may be somewhat more difficult to obtain a position, including a travel nurse position, it would be foolish to think that it is impossible. Many employers are willing to give nurse licensees a second chance, albeit with some conditions (e.g., random monitoring, continued Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings).

The only difficulty you may experience is that you want to do travel nursing. As you probably know, travel nursing is a career of changing facilities and states on a regular basis, a career where you may not be totally accepted by the regular staff, and a career that keeps you away from your family. These could be stress factors that could affect your ability to remain clean and sober.

You might want to consider another role that has regular hours and a more stable work environment. Have you thought about a nurse case manager, a certified addictions counselor in an appropriate facility or another role that utilizes your years of experience and nursing in healthcare?

The important thing is for you to work, so look for a position you can be successful in, remain clean and sober and enjoy your empty nest status.

Regards,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.