Substance abuse among nurses commonly arises through drug diversion. When a health care professional feels overwhelmed and has access to pain medication, he or she may use this opportunity to treat chronic pain and other physical and mental health conditions.

Although disciplinary action at work related to drug diversion endangers your job and your professional license, some nurses in this predicament protect their careers through enrollment in the Pennsylvania Voluntary Recovery Program.

What is the Voluntary Recovery Program?

Professionals experiencing a substance use disorder who report their disorder to VRP will be directed to appropriate treatment resources. Upon completing treatment, the nurse or health care provider can retain his or her professional license through consistent monitoring for safe, drug-free practice.

Who is eligible?

You may be able to enroll in VRP by meeting these conditions:

  • An approved VRP health care provider diagnoses you with substance use disorder or another physical or mental disorder that impacts your ability to practice
  • You successfully complete the health care provider’s recommended treatment program
  • You sign a consent agreement with the VRP licensing board for the monitoring program
  • You adhere to the other terms and conditions of the program

You cannot enroll in this state program if you have committed a felony or misdemeanor controlled substance offense in Pennsylvania, if you have caused significant patient harm, if you diverted illegal substances solely for sale or distribution, if you have failed to complete a similar program in another city or state or if you have committed a sexual violation.

What happens during the program?

After you complete treatment, you can retain your professional license with three years of VRP monitoring. This includes random drug tests, supervised practice, participation in a professional support group and satisfactory job performance. You may not work in an agency, private practice or unit that involves administering controlled substances.

Nurses and health care providers can seek help for addiction without legal ramifications. If you have avoided treatment because of your professional license, consider the VRP program in Pennsylvania.