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Initiative seeks additional layer of support for recovering health professionals

March 23, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The duration and intensity of addiction treatment and monitoring for healthcare professionals has been well-documented, and this is often cited as a model that the treatment field would like to see applied more broadly. Yet even physicians, nurses and other health professionals who receive comprehensive services can get stuck in their recovery, or might at various points sense a lack of credibility with their patients or the community.

The Accountable Professional Resource Network (APRN) was formed last year to offer a membership and credentialing opportunity for recovering healthcare professionals—an effort that its founder characterizes as “an 'Angie's List' of deemed compliance.”

While health professional recovery programs generally require three to five years of regular aftercare and support meeting attendance, “I noticed that what happens to the person after finishing the three to five years is that they begin to feel empty, quite frightened, and disenfranchised,” says Bob Coates, MDiv, LMFT, president of APRN founding entity SyMedica, an educational and consulting organization. Some may have experienced revenue losses and/or may be exiting the profession altogether, says Coates.

The network is designed to help reignite these recovering health professionals' passion for their work, with a vehicle that also communicates to the public, 'I'm above board. I follow standards, and I keep best practices,” Coates says. “Patients have a right to know if their practitioner is ascribing to a statement of compliance.”

APRN has been established as a for-profit entity. Coates also says he is seeking nonprofit status for the Caduceus Recovery Foundation, Inc., an organization designed to provide scholarships for those in the healthcare field who cannot afford addiction treatment.

Coates says of APRN, “The goal is our membership will be a pathway back to best practices, … an organization similar to Joint Commission credentialing for the public trust.”

Available services

APRN will be focused to extending services for healthcare professionals after their mandated program ends. Coates says the available services will include group support, continuing education on addiction and recovery, and mentoring from facilitators who “have been around the block.”

The cost of an individual's membership will help pay for a credentialing process for each member. The members of APRN will have the ability to track online their activities as a recovering health professional, such as continuing education and drug screens.

“Our goal is to offer resources to keep the person safe, to be a safety net,” Coates says. “We want to be a resource, but we don't want to be a policing organization. We want to be a safe place for a practitioner to be able to say, 'I may be in trouble again.'”