Letters


Techs are grateful for the attention

I want to let you know how much the techs where I work appreciated your article on their role (Summer 2016 issue). We distributed it to techs at our four locations. They do not receive praise often enough.

Therapists spend 40 hours a week with patients. Techs spend 128. Are we paying enough attention to this very important resource?

Michael Weiner, PhD, CAP

Director of Alumni Services

Seaside/Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches

Palm Beach, Fla.

Recovering nurses find the struggle pays off

This is in response to the excellent article "Understand the Mindset of the Recovering Health Professional" by Joseph Garbely and Greg Gable (Summer 2016 issue). I began my dedicated work to helping impaired nurses with one RN, in 1998, as a peer support group facilitator in a Recovery and Monitoring Program (RAMP). This year I have 63 participants in my caseload in four groups: two regular groups and two mental health groups for people with a co-occurring disorder diagnosis.

One of the lines that jumped out from the article that bears understanding and repeating is, "These professionals are intensely focused on their career, with a singular goal of checking off boxes to resume their livelihood as soon as possible." The requirements and expectations for successful completion of the contracts, which may vary from one year to five years in duration, consist of random urine drug screens, hair tests, nail tests, psychological evaluation and close connection with dedicated case managers. They are required to attend a peer support group weekly, and 12-Step meetings in some cases.

Emotionally, every newcomer joining a peer group enters timidly, feeling ashamed, sad, angry, totally lost and alone. By the end of the first 1.5-hour group, they have connected with many others and have heard their own story repeated by someone else in the group. As time goes on, they share their shortcomings, and discuss angry spouses and sad and bewildered children not understanding why Mom or Dad isn't going to work as a nurse.

Some of the most challenging people in the program are the strongest, most successful nurses. They have been powerful advocates for their patients, and have consoled and educated family members. All of these responsibilities are placed on temporary hold while they are being directed or educated about their own substance use disorder, their own mental health (which often includes depression or anxiety). This is not easy for anyone who has been in charge of helping others. Healthcare professionals have no qualms about taking care of other people, but when asked or directed to care for their own needs, they often are at a loss or feel guilty. Many come from rehab or inpatient programs and usually integrate well into a group setting.

When it is time to return to working as a nurse, they are required to disclose their participation in a monitoring program, because their supervisors are required to send in monthly reports. …

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