Starting as a brand new nurse is just like swimming up river, with no arms, or legs…blind folded” - Douglas Michael
My name is Douglas Michael and I’m an alcoholic. It was my first day off of orientation as a new nurse—an LPN to be specific. Licensed Practical Nurse. I graduated nursing school in 2013 but was an alcoholic and the Board of Nursing knew it, and decided not to grant me my license. My license was flagged because of two DWIs. With the option to enter a program of sobriety and drug testing, I chose to continue drinking and racked up a third DWI. Six years later, after the third DWI and a ten year suspended driver’s license, along with a six month jail sentence, I decided I should stop drinking. I called the BON and asked to enroll in their sobriety program. They accepted my enrollment and I signed a contract stating I would not use alcohol or drugs, and that I would pay the $5,000 in yearly fees and costs.
After nearly two years sober and a year and a half of compliance with the Board of Nursing’s sobriety program, I began my career as a nurse. I would be in this sobriety program for a total of five years.
I got my nursing license in November of 2019 and then got hired a couple months later. This would be my first job as a nurse. I was a sober alcoholic and a nurse. A good nurse at that. In addition to being a nurse, I would find that my new title would also encompass the following roles and jobs: friend, social worker, waiter, bus boy, maid, detective, actor, entertainer, life coach, secretary, body guard, security guard, peace maker advocate, translator, massage therapist, foot rubber, water boy, chef, handy man, electronic technician, and much more.
The facility that hired me was hiring anyone with a nursing license and a heartbeat. No experience, no connections, no problem. My interview was more of a recruitment and the orientation I received was nothing of the sort and prepared me in no way whatsoever for the daily grind I would endure. On top of the immense workload each nurse had each day, the pay wasn’t that great. It was twenty-two dollars and change per hour… this was three dollars less than the state average for LPN’s in New Jersey… two years before! No wonder no one wanted to work here.