After recovering from an addiction, many people return to school, change careers and often want to get into the healthcare field. If you are in recovery and wish to get into the healthcare field, there will be some obstacles. In the past several months, I have received several telephone calls from people graduating nursing school who are facing challenges securing a healthcare license.
Many people who start nursing school are under the impression that if they successfully complete nursing school, there will be no obstacles in securing a nursing license.
If you are seeking a healthcare license, you will be asked to disclose any prior history of drug addiction or alcoholism. You will then be required to attend an evaluation with a drug and alcohol counselor or doctor. Unless you can prove through regular urine screens, that you have been sober for a significant amount of time, you will be asked to enter a monitoring program for a minimum of three (3) years in order for your license to be granted. You will typically be asked to join this monitoring program before you are even allowed to sit for the Boards.
In Pennsylvania, the monitoring program that you will be asked to join is the Voluntary Recovery Program (VRP) which is administered by the Professional Health Monitoring Program (PHMP). This is typically a three (3) year program where you will be required to call in five (5) days per week, and when your number is picked, you will be required to submit a urine screen on that date. Additionally, you will be required to attend three (3) AA or NA meetings per week, as well as attend a Professionals' Recovery Meeting, usually one (1) time per week. Your job will also be required to fill out Quarterly reports regarding your performance.
If you do not agree to these terms, the Board will typically issue a provisional denial of your application which entitles you to an automatic appeal and a hearing before a hearing officer.
I have had several cases where an individual has been sober for five (5) years, and the Board will not issue a license unless that person can prove through regular urine screens, that he or she has in fact been sober. Most, if not all, people who are sober do not get regular drug screens over this long of a period.
I have represented many individuals who were issued a provisional denial because of prior drug and alcohol use. We have appealed these denials and have been successful in most cases. At a hearing, we will produce evidence of a person's sobriety, usually through co-workers, fellow members of 12 Step Programs, sponsors, and other character witnesses. We may also present an expert witness who has examined the applicant and will provide evidence that the applicant has been in a full sustained remission for an extended period.
If you are in recovery, and wish to obtain a healthcare license, you may want to contact us to discuss what you should do in order to ensure that when you successfully complete your classes, you will be granted a license to practice your profession. If you have applied for a license, and have been denied because of your prior drug or alcohol addiction, please call us. We can help you get the license that you have worked so hard to prepare for.