NEW YORK NURSE: April 2011
by Erin Silk
For more than 13 years, NYSNA’s Statewide Peer Assistance for Nurses program (SPAN) has been helping nurses return to work after seeking help for substance use or addiction.
SPAN is run by NYSNA staff RNs who understand the healthcare workplace and the bio-psycho-social, professional, and legal problems that nurses affected by substance use disorders face.
The program began in 1997 and received a boost in June of 2000 when state education law was amended to include peer assistance as a necessary component of recovery for substance use disorders.
“Peer assistance is at the core of the work that we do. Including this element in the education law allows for intervention at any point along the continuum of use, misuse, abuse, addiction and recovery — preserving nurse resources and public safety,” said Ellen Brickman, director, SPAN program.
Underlying every aspect of the SPAN program is the belief that every nurse deserves access to treatment, help in preserving his or her license and employment status, and ongoing support throughout the recovery process. Advocates trained in peer assistance support nurses in recovery from their initial intake in SPAN, through their return to the workplace and ongoing recovery.
SPAN provides a balance between the needs of the nurse and the needs of patients and aims to:
SPAN staff are ready to offer support to any New York state licensed nurse affected by a substance use disorder who asks for help to achieve recovery. They share information and education about addiction and peer assistance; help promote prevention and early recognition of addiction through workshops and a HELPline; and offer ongoing assistance through peer support groups facilitated by trained volunteer advocates throughout the state.
If you know a nurse, or you are a nurse who struggles with a substance-related problem, please consider reaching out to SPAN at 800.45.SPAN.1, or e-mail SPAN@NYSNA.org.