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Substance-Use Disorders in Nursing: U of MN curriculum incl Manthey’s story (video link) April 26, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Academia, Nursing Peer Support Network.
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School leads collaborative efforts to address substance use disorders in nurses
by: Brett Stursa

The numbers are well documented. About one in 10 people in the United States has a substance use disorder, which mirrors the number of nurses and other health professionals with the illness.

That means about 300,000 nurses nationwide are living with a substance use disorder, and in Minnesota that translates to about 12,700 nurses.

While the numbers are straight forward, the consequences of substance use disorders on lives are complicated and nuanced. Concerned about the scope of the problem and its impact on patients and nurses’ well-being, Dean Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, sought to identify strategies to address the issue of substance use disorder in nurses.

“Nobody is untouched by addiction,” said Delaney. “Even though it brings to the surface many difficult issues, it is critical to the health of our patients and nurses that we talk openly and address it.”

In 2014, Delaney invited state leaders in licensing, education and recovery, as well as the school’s largest clinical partners University of Minnesota Health and Fairview Health Services, to develop a deeper understanding of the landscape in Minnesota and identify a blueprint for action. All who were invited were quick to accept the invitation. Shirley Brekken, MS, RN, FAAN, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Nursing, was eager to get to work. “I think that each of us was looking for something, for a way to protect the public, be supportive of recovery and make nurses aware of how easily addiction can occur,” said Brekken. “There was recognition that if we do it together we can have a far greater impact than if each of us is operating on our own.”

“Nobody is untouched by addiction. Even though it brings to the surface many difficult issues, it is critical to the health of our patients and nurses that we talk openly and address it.” – Dean Connie White Delaney

The group, called Prevention Awareness Addiction Recovery Reentry and Support, quickly determined that education and support were priorities. Since the first meeting in 2014, the School of Nursing developed and launched an integrated statewide approach encompassing education, prevention, recovery and support.

Educating students on the risks

A stressful job, stigma and shame about substance abuse, and a lack of education regarding self-identification all contribute to the risks nurses face. “There are a lot of risk factors that are unique to nurses that weren’t being discussed in the education that the students were getting,” said Dina Stewart, RN, a Doctor of Nursing Practice student who worked with Christine Mueller, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, associate dean for academic programs, and others to develop a learning module for all pre-licensure students. “It’s largely something nurses don’t talk about still because of the stigma.”

The module, which will be made available to pre-licensure programs across Minnesota, is designed to help students understand the risk factors nurses face, with the idea that if nurses know their risks they are better equipped to avoid them. Another objective is to give emerging nurses a plan of action if a colleague exhibits symptoms. “One of my biggest hopes is that it can be discussed openly without any shame associated with it,” said Stewart.

Many nurses don’t seek help because they fear they will lose their licenses to practice. The education describes the protections in place to assist nurses and other health professionals. Minnesota offers nurses and other health professionals a confidential monitoring program. “Nurses are worried they are going to lose their livelihood when really there are protections in place to assist them if they come forward on their own,” said Stewart.

Introducing peer support for nurses in recovery

The goal is that the education being taught in the classroom will be bridged to extend to orientation and ongoing professional development in practice settings. Until recently, nurses who sought treatment and hoped to re-enter the profession had little assistance from each other. Nurses in Minnesota now have a peer support network, which works to foster peer support for nurses in recovery.

The meetings do not take the place of treatment or AA, but rather provide an opportunity for nurses to talk about their recovery and the challenges unique to nursing. “The main hurdles are stigma and shame. That’s especially true in nursing because we are dedicated to helping people and when we realize that we may have harmed people, the shame of that is overwhelming,” said Marie Manthey, RN, Nurses Peer Support Network board chair. Manthey’s own story of recovery is shared in the School of Nursing’s module.

Regular meetings of the network are held in eight cities across the state, and on any given week, there are 10 to 15 people at each meeting. Plans are underway to expand to more cities. “We would like to have meetings in every area where there are groups of nurses who would benefit from it,” said Manthey, a School of Nursing alumna.

Reflecting on the progress made and the work still to be done, Dean Delaney credits the group’s collaborative spirit and willingness to be vulnerable during difficult conversations for its successes. “What’s underlying the development of this integrated model, ultimately, is ensuring the highest trust and safety of the public and also supporting our professionals,” said Delaney. “The way to enhance the health of the public is ensuring the health of care providers, including nurses. We have the framework and we are committed to build on it.”

Comments»

1. Heidi - April 26, 2017

You are my hero! What great work!


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