Hiring nurses re-entering the workforce after chemical dependence

The phenomenological study explored the perceptions of nursing leaders regarding the acceptance of rehabilitated chemically impaired nurses back into the workforce.  Substance abuse among health care professionals has existed for many years; however, many times, it is not reported due to the stigma associated with substance abuse.  Repeated drug abuse can lead to serious problems related to decision making, and safety issues in the patient care setting.  Most nurses and administrators do not have a comprehensive knowledge in order to diagnose drug misuse, which is, now, diagnosed as a disease and can be treated.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a person who has a past record of impairment cannot be denied employment.  Admitting these nurses back into the work force can help eliminate nursing shortages.  Therefore, it is imperative to have policies and strategies in place to ensure an established method to determine the scope of practice for the re-entering nurse and a monitoring system for drug testing. 



Although many studies may have been conducted to gain greater insight into the experiences of chemically impaired nurses, few, if any, studies focused on understanding and explaining the experiences of administrators who have hired, fired, or supervised chemically rehabilitated professionals.  Imogene King’s conceptual system and theory of goal attainment forms the framework for this study because the model is focused on three interacting systems identified as personal, interpersonal, and social systems.  King views people as dynamic human beings whose discernment of persons, events, and objects guide their behaviors, social interactions, and physical well-being.  This phenomenological study explored the lived experiences of administrators, supervisor and managers who have hired, fired, or supervised recovered chemical dependent nurses.  Direct Nurse Managers’ perceptions and attitudes about rehabilitated professionals from chemical dependency who are re-entering practice are explored as well.  The participants in the study unveiled assumptions as well as personal and professional insights about chemically rehabilitated professionals returning to the work setting.  The themes that emerged from the study included demonstration of compassion, concern for the assignment of duties, the influence of personal values (forgiveness, acceptance, and respect for others), and concern for eligibility of employment and for the successful completion of the IPN program.  The results from the study add to existing nursing literature and may assist leaders to construct a work setting conducive to meeting the goals set forth by nursing administrators as well as provide insight into and acceptance of the rehabilitated professional in the work setting.


This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Miller, T., Kanai, T., Kebritchi, M., Grendell, R., & Howard, T.
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Journal of Nursing Education and Practice. 08/14/2015
Volume 5 (11)
Date Published: 
Friday, August 14, 2015