If you are in an alternative program for dependency with a State Nursing Board, congrats on getting help and moving forward with your recovery.
I am being contacted by more and more nurses in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana as well as other states where I don't practice law about State Nursing Board Alternative Program for Chemical Dependency compliance issues and monitoring.
Here is something quick to consider:
1. An alternative to discipline program is wonderful because it allows you to be monitored and for the Nursing Board not to propose disciplinary action against your license for your violation of the Nurse Practice Act;
2. Read the agreement or contract and then read it again;
3. You MUST strictly comply with the Alternative Program contract or agreement. Partial or substantial compliance isn't enough;
4. Failure to complete the program may result in a suspension of your license or your case being referred for a disciplinary investigation;
5. These programs are not "quick fixes" and require long-term compliance and monitoring of 3years to 5 years;
6. Consider having attorney representation, counseling, and advising while you are in the program. You will have questions and concerns and these are things you can discuss with your attorney. Hire an attorney with experience in State Nursing Board cases and familiarity with addiction and nursing practice; and
7. If you relapse, report your relapse in accordance with the contract or agreement you signed. Don't look for avenues, ways and excuses not to self-report your relapse. I have been contacted by more than one nurse seeking to "get around" not self-reporting a relapse and trying to "knit pick" the definition of a relapse. Addiction is a disease and relapse isn't uncommon. Report your relapse as required by the agreement or contract you signed. Failing to report a relapse can result in your termination from the program;
8. Before you enter into a State Nursing Board Alternative to Discipline Program for Addiction, speak with a nurse license defense attorney in your state or jurisdiction. Even if you don't retain the attorney, at least have a consultation with the attorney to review the terms and conditions in the agreement/contract with you before you sign the agreement/contract;
9. If you are in an alternative program in State A and State B and you want to apply for a license in State C and also apply to State C's alternative program, contact a nursing license defense attorney in State C before you start this process. Each State Nursing Board alternative to discipine program for addiction is different and all states don't have an "open admission" process; and
10. Don't despair because its a process and you will get through this also. Continue to work your recovery plan. Don't be afraid to ask for assistance from family, friends, and colleagues. Don't be to frugal to pay an attorney for a consultation or legal representation if you are hitting a brick wall and need counseling and advising on navigating the system. Yes, it costs money to hire an attorney and you may have to borrow the money or tap a retirement account. But this may be money that it well spent.
I am speaking with more and more nurses navigating a combination of the State Nursing Board alternative program enrollment, termination, and/or license suspension phases (depending on where you are in the program and how long you have been enrolled before the termination) for 3-5 years which may then be referred to the State Nursing Board for the discipline, reinstatement, and monitoring process which may be another 5-10 years (if you count the alternative program time or sometimes in addition to the alternative program time) without much success. Hire a nursing license defense attorney to work with you.