Returning to your work - and our community

If treatment for dependency on drugs or alcohol is designed to help a person put their life back together and continue to be a useful, skilled professional, how does that happen? Showing up for the job after "being out on leave" isn't easy.

"What will my colleagues on the shift think? Will anyone ever trust me again with the keys to the dispensary, to handle surgical instruments properly, to tell the truth? Can I look anyone in the eye when they know where I've been?"

For one thing, confidentiality is a primary tenet of addiction treatment. Not everybody has to know about a nurse's situation – that's handled case-by-case. True, getting back to work will raise some questions. Nurses Lifeline offers guidance and, when appropriate, that crucial phone call to a supervisor when the nurse has completed the initial treatment, and is preparing to be a reliable member of the team again.

Through time and care, the Nurses Lifeline staff becomes familiar enough with a patient to be able to make recommendations that will affect a patient's career trajectory, licenses and a return to the workforce.

A treatment center would never recommend that a bartender return to work at a tavern. Likewise, a nurse's return to work often puts the individual back in proximity with what had been their drug of choice. Our program staff teaches methods that help nurses deal with this issue, as well as the public's typical drop in confidence as information gets out about nurses' behavior and the hospitals that employ them.

You really can maintain licensing with a clean record. Nurses and their counselors develop a focused treatment plan and complete a comprehensive return-to-work evaluation. We also collaborate with state licensing boards and/or disciplinary boards to address licensing considerations. Once re-established in the workplace, recovering patients can attend regular educational seminars and work groups, as well as alumni events and activities as hosted at Livengrin and at outside venues.

Learn more about how this is handled when you speak with the Nurses Lifeline intake personnel.

...and back home

When a nurse returns to home and work, Nurses Lifeline is there every step of the way. In the Philadelphia region, there's backup and support from an entire community of professionals and friends. Livengrin's alumni association, with meetings and special events, keeps the ex-patient connected.

Our Haverford, Fort Washington and Bensalem sites offer twelve-step meetings for health professionals.

We welcome alumni to be a part of the "giving back" tradition and volunteer their recently-acquired wisdom and motivation to support nurses just entering the program.

Some patients travel a distance for treatment with us. In such cases, outreach to his or her hometown or region ensures there's a helping hand waiting upon their return. We help the patient pull together a sponsor, twelve-step group, online and peer support, and other resources to maintain the connections that greatly enhance recovery.

The role of the supervisor

Why would a manager want to help someone on the job who has become chemically dependent? For one thing, it's the sensible, compassionate thing to do – especially in a field of endeavor that is rooted in caring.

Beyond that, it makes good business sense. To recruit, train and integrate a nurse into a medical setting costs many thousands of dollars. Why sacrifice that investment in someone who showed all the qualities the job requires, because of a treatable disease?

With healing and education, that person can return to the hospital or office as a valued employee, with experience, "people skills" and street-smarts intact. Helping a nurse get back on their feet sets demonstrates that the institution or practice cares just as much about its people as its policies.

Nurses Lifeline doesn't just ask an employer to take its word that a patient is better and ready to come back. It works with the hospital, practice, HR office and/or state licensing board to ensure that all requirements are met, as well as those of the Livengrin treatment staff.