Wellness & Peer Assistance in Washington State
What You Need to Know
The AANA Wellness Initiative launched in 2004 as a memorial to Past President Jan Stewart, CRNA, ARNP. It has become an outstanding success assisting AANA members in dealing with alcohol and chemical dependency issues. The Peer Assistance Committee has been asked by a number of WANA members about services and options offered to our membership by our state association and Washington State. Fortunately, WANA has had an active Peer Assistance Committee for several decades and has worked closely with the Washington Health Professional Services (WHPS), a confidential program that provides a protected environment for treating the disease of chemical dependency.
Washington State nurses are fortunate that the state legislature authorized the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NQAC) to provide nurses an alternative to discipline for cases of chemical dependency. The "alternative" is diversion to a state-approved chemical dependency program. This is where WHPS steps in to help the chemically dependent professional. This individual has several options, while still protecting the RN/ARNP license:
- Self-referral to aid in early treatment of a recognized dependency problem.
- Referral by employer, family, friends or colleagues.
- Referral by a licensing/discipline authority.
In every case, the nursing license is protected, as long as the individual engages in the supervised treatment and contract requirements of WHPS. Alcohol and chemical dependency does not need to destroy or end any nursing career. It is a treatable disease just like diabetes or any other systemic diseases.
AANA Peer Assistance Help Line
800-654-5167, or contact a Washington State Peer Advisor (SPA): AANA Peer Assistance Resource Directory.
If the problem is life threatening, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Hotline
Another valuable resource is the AANA Peer Assistance Resource Directory.
Other valuable resources:
- AANA Peer Assistance
- AANA: Getting Help
- AANA Wellness
- AANA Student Wellness
- AANA Air (Anesthetists in Recovery)
Remember, substance use disorder is a disease. One out of ten health professionals experiences a problem with drugs or alcohol over the course of their career. Treatment is available and confidential. Ask for help if you need it.
Julie Rice, Manager, AANA Health & Wellness and Peer Assistance Programs
firstname.lastname@example.org, or 847-655-1114