The Experiences of Substance Use Nurses Participating In The Health Practitioners' Monitoring Program In Virginia


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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to describe participants' experiences in a monitoring program for impaired nurses in Virginia, determine what beliefs and attitudes underscore the participants' abilities to cope with the program, and uncover what meaning is made of the experiences. In Virginia, health care providers are supported through the Virginia Health Practitioners' Monitoring Program (HPMP).

Limited research exists concerning the lived experiences of substance use nurses who are participating in a state monitoring agency. Research focuses on how a nurse copes with personal and job-related stress and the use of peer support as an important aspect of recovery. This study helps to uncover what policies are effective and ineffective and serves as valuable feedback to ensure the success of monitoring programs, the recovery of substance use nurses, and the safety of the public.

In this phenomenological study, five participants were solicited, four females and one male. Three out of the five participants were near completion of the HPMP experience. Two participants were relatively new (over one year) to HPMP. The study focused on three primary research questions: (1) What has been the lived experience of the participant in HPMP?; (2) What beliefs/attitudes are used by the participants to cope with the monitoring experience?; (3) What meaning do the participants give to their experiences in the HPMP?

Initially, a pre-interview was held on the phone. Then, two interviews were conducted in the participants' hometowns spaced one week to ten days apart. The first interview centered around gathering a focused life history and on the details of the experience. The second interview afforded the opportunity for reflection on the meaning of the experience in HPMP.

Data analysis began with an immersion into the descriptive words of the lived experience of each participant. Through the compilation of textural and structural descriptions, three themes emerged from the rich data. The findings indicated that the participants felt overwhelmed with the program's requirements. Participants found the use of coping skills helped them work through the overwhelming rules and regulations. Finally, participants discovered that with acceptance of the program came accountability.



monitoring program, substance use, nurses, overwhelming, internal and external coping skills, accountability