TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator John A. Girgenti which would require the New Jersey Board of Nursing to establish an “Alternative to Discipline Program” for licensees who are registered professional nurses, licensed practical nurses and other professionals subject to regulation by the nursing board, and who are suffering from a chemical dependency, recived approval in the Assembly today.
“Medical professionals are so important to us and that is why the State needs to step in and offer help to those with a chemical dependancy,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic. “The nurses in the State are highly trained professionals and we should help them get their lives back on track and back to offering excellent medical assistance to the public.”
The bill, S-1445, would provide that the program permit nurses to disclose their dependency in an intervention process. As part of the “Alternative to Discipline Program,” the nursing board would oversee the licensee for the period that he or she seeks treatment and recovery. Also, the board would establish a five-member “Alternative to Discipline Committee” to review matters involving licensees suffering from chemical dependencies. The bill would require confidentiality during the intervention program.
“With the high levels of stress and easy access to potentially addictive narcotics that health care professionals face, the temptation to start down the road to addiction is greater than most other profession,” said Senator Girgenti. “Rather than unilaterally punishing those who fall prey to the pressure, we should offer counseling and treatment to help them deal with their dependency, and begin serving the public health again.”
The bill now heads to the Governor’s office for enactment.