Outpatient Addictions Nursing: Beyond the Bedside

Outpatient Addictions Nursing: Beyond the Bedside

Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS
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An exclusive #MeetMoxieNurse Interview on outpatient addictions nursing with Samantha Cella, RN, ACRN, CARN, a Boston-based Outpatient Addictions RN Case Manager, as told to Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS

What is your background and where are you from?

I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Rockland County, New York. I moved to Boston in 2010; it turned out to be for the best as there are so many opportunities for healthcare experiences in this area, especially for working in outpatient addictions nursing.

Was nursing your first career?

No, I initially went to Johnson and Wales University for baking and pastry as well as culinary arts. I thought this would be my first and only career, but then I did an internship at Boston Medical Center in the dietetics department. I realized that I loved the hospital environment! I knew this is where I wanted to end up, but I was also not sure as to what specific capacity I would work in at that point.

What is your job title and what responsibilities does that entail?

I am an RN Case Manager for an office-based addiction treatment (OBAT) program. I meet with patients 1:1 to offer counseling about substance use and their recovery goals. We also offer medication-assisted treatment and administer injectable medications such as Sublocade and Vivitrol. I do a ton of education with patients about harm reduction and staying safe. On certain weekends, I have on-call hours where I carry a specific phone for patients to contact me in case of emergency refills or other urgent issues. Otherwise, I work only during weekday business hours; I love the schedule!

What was your path to get there?

After I graduated from Johnson and Wales, I had a temporary position at a health insurance company providing notification for denied medical requests. It was emotionally draining to constantly provide bad news to patients, and I eventually decided to pursue nursing as a career in which I would be able to help instead of hurt. I took a job as a nursing assistant at a local psychiatric hospital and worked on their dual-diagnosis unit. There, I worked with patients with both substance abuse disorders and psychiatric conditions. This fostered my love of working with people who use or abuse substances. It is such a misunderstood area to work in; I love providing education to patients and reducing stigma surrounding substance abuse in the community.

What does a typical day in the office look like?

A day in the office includes a morning team meeting with the program director and fellow RN Case Managers. After this, we each have our own scheduled appointments where we individually meet with patients to provide support and treatment planning. Providing safe, stigma-free access to treatment is a right for all patients, and something we work to provide every day. I feel very passionately that all people deserve help for their substance use, and I always provide non-discriminatory care.

Did you start inpatient, or go right to outpatient? What advice do you have for a new grad or aspiring nurse?

I was never an inpatient nurse. I briefly worked in corrections as a new nurse but then transitioned to primary care and outpatient addiction services, where I continue to work. Don’t believe what “they” say; you don’t need to start off at the bedside first! I believe new grads should follow their interests and go right into whatever specialty they choose. It can also reduce burnout when nurses are in a field that they truly love. When you are interviewing for jobs in your desired specialty, let the hiring manager know how passionate you are about the field! It definitely shows and could make a big difference.

Tell us something interesting about you that is non-nursing related.

I have a 15-year-old cat named Sandy, and I’ve had her since she was about two. She has been with me through everything!

About the Author, Angela Vallillo, MPH, BSN, RN, C-EFM, C-ONQS

Angela is a travel labor and delivery RN. She is also in midwifery school at Frontier Nursing University and a clinical specialist for MindChild Medical, Inc., the creator of a non-invasive fetal ECG device. She holds certifications in electronic fetal monitoring and obstetric and neonatal quality and safety.

What does Moxie mean to me? “Moxie means having a fighting spirit, and that means fiercely advocating for my patients.”

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