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K9 Rachel Shuster

K9 Rachel Shuster

The impaired professional: Helping the helpers

Rachel Shuster

Sunday, October 25th 2020  |  2 pm EST

Learning objectives:
  1. Define the health professional monitoring program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (United States) and which licensing boards participate in the program.
  2. Describe key points of one individual’s experience with substance use and the recovery process.
  3. Detail the financial implications and other consequences of substance use and health monitoring for nurses in Pennsylvania.
  4. Foster innovative ideas regarding the identification and management of health professionals struggling with substances through the sharing of experiences.
  5. Increase empathy for health professionals who are struggling or have struggled with substances.

It is common for persons in recovery to begin working in the field of addictions. It is important that the International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA), as a professional organization that works with individuals across the spectrum of use, also supports health professionals in recovery. Through this presentation of one nurse’s journey, IntNSA is recommitting to its support of both health professionals who are actively struggling with substances as well as health professionals in recovery. This presentation will feature one individual’s experience, describe the professional monitoring programs available in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (United States), and make suggestions to improve the support given to health professionals establishing recovery. There will be a facilitated discussion with time for questions/answers at the conclusion of the presentation.


Rachel A. Shuster, BSN, RN, CARN, CAAP
Rachel is a Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN) and Certified Allied Addiction Professional (CAAP). A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rachel earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Waynesburg University in 2012. She began her nursing career as a critical care nurse and taught nursing part-time as a clinical instructor before she transitioned to her specialty of addictions nursing. Rachel has worked in a variety of settings including as the charge nurse of an outpatient office-based addiction treatment clinic and as the site nurse of a residential treatment program for young-adults. She now works as an Addiction Specialist for Gateway Health Plan. Rachel is a person in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder and enjoys speaking publicly about her experience and journey as a healthcare professional in recovery. She was selected as an honorable mention for Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2019 Excellence in Nursing Awards due to her work in the field and in her community as an addictions nurse and advocate. Rachel is a member of various professional organizations including the International Nursing Society on Addictions (IntNSA) and is currently serving IntNSA on the Board of Directors as the 2019-2021 Secretary. Her interests include substance use, addiction, recovery, stigma/discrimination, harm reduction, opioid use disorder pharmacotherapy, health professionals in recovery, chronic viral hepatitis C treatment, and patient/provider education.