Employment implications of nurses going through peer assistance programs for substance use disorders

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Nurses constitute approximately 36% of all healthcare providers, and 2% of the labor force in the United States (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2016). However, about 8% of nurses suffer from substance use disorders ([SUD]; Kunyk, 2015) and must participate in peer assistance programs to maintain their licenses (Darbro & Malliarakis, 2012). The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experiences of nurses with SUD participating in peer assistance programs and the subsequent employment implications. A Phenomenological approach was used to answer the research questions. Ten nurses were recruited from local support meetings and a thematic inductive approach was utilized to develop four overarching themes, which included stress from restriction, guilt and shame, gratitude for being caught, and keeping up with recovery. Understanding the challenges recovering nurses face when being incorporated into the workforce is important in implementing policies that facilitate a smooth transition.

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