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About Us


TnPAP is a program of the Tennessee Nurses Foundation. The program is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Health.

Our Mission

The mission of the Tennessee Professional Assistance Program is to assist in the rehabilitation of impaired healthcare professionals by providing consultation, referral, and monitoring services to facilitate a safe return to practice.

Who We Are

The Peer Assistance Program (PAP) was established by the Tennessee Nurses Association in 1981 and subsequently placed under the Tennessee Nurses Foundation (TNF) in 1982 to assist in the rehabilitation of nurses who were impaired from the abuse of drugs or alcohol. From 1981 to 1994, the program was staffed with nurse volunteers who contacted the chemically dependent nurses and urged him/her to acknowledge the problem and seek treatment. Failure of the chemically dependent nurse to seek treatment after adequate contacts necessitated reporting the individual to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Determination of facts and disciplinary action has always been, and will continue to be, the responsibility of the Tennessee Department of Health's Division of Health Related Boards.

In addition to providing administrative support to the licensing boards, a purpose of the Health Related Boards is to assist in the rehabilitation of impaired professionals who are licensed by these Boards. The Health Related Boards has the power to enter into agreements, provide grants, and make other arrangements with statewide nonprofit professional associations or foundations to identify and assist impaired professionals who are licensed by these Boards.

In 1994, the Tennessee Board of Nursing contracted with the Tennessee Nurses Foundation to provide advocacy, referral, and monitoring services for their licensees as an alternative to licensure discipline.

Due to the success of the program, other professional boards expressed an interest in partnering with PAP. In an effort to embrace other health care professionals, the PAP changed its name to the Tennessee Professional Assistance Program (TnPAP); however, the original structure and philosophy have not changed.

In addition to the Tennessee Board of Nursing, TnPAP presently is partnered with the following licensing boards/committees:

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What We Do

  • Confidential consultations.
  • Access incoming referrals to determine appropriate action.
  • Provide education to healthcare students, professional associations and other organizations through access to e-learning.
  • Facilitate evaluations and/or treatment.
  • Establish monitoring upon treatment discharge.
  • Provide advocacy for compliant participants with employer and TN Department of Health (licensure board).
  • Administer support groups throughout TN by tracking meeting attendance. of participants and consulting with facilitators for feedback on participant's progress.
  • Perform day to day case management on all actively monitored participants.
  • Report non-compliance of participants to TN Department of Health for appropriate action to ensure public safety and welfare.

TnPAP is not…

  • a treatment program
  • a place to hide illegal activity
  • an easy way out of a tough situation
  • a program for repeat offenders
  • a program for licensees who do not feel that they have a problem (denial) or who are not ready to change (unwillingness)
  • authorized to provide legal advice


  • The program offers an avenue for early identification, treatment, monitoring and advocacy for healthcare providers whose practice may be impaired due to a physical, psychological or chemical impairment.
  • The program offers compassionate and structured support to impaired healthcare providers.
  • Consultation with employers to assure a safe transition back to practice.
  • To increase awareness of physical, mental, or chemical impairment among healthcare providers, employers and educators.

Steps in Basic TnPAP Services

  • Initial contact with TnPAP representative.
  • Evaluation/assessment by TnPAP approved healthcare provider
  • Evaluator provides TnPAP with recommended treatment plan.
  • If appropriate, TnPAP refers and/or assists participant in selecting appropriate treatment center.
  • TnPAP provides support throughout the period of treatment.
  • Treatment facility staff develop aftercare plan.
  • Participant must be deemed safe to return to work as a practitioner by treatment facility, evaluator, and TnPAP staff.
  • Participant is monitored from 3 to 5 years (or longer if necessary).


  • To provide support and close monitoring of professionals who are unsafe, or potentially unsafe, to practice due to a physical, mental or chemical impairment;
  • To facilitate early intervention, thereby decreasing the time between the professional's acknowledgement of the problem and his/her entry into a recovery process;
  • To provide a program for affected professionals to be rehabilitated in a therapeutic, non-punitive and non-public process;
  • To develop a statewide resource network for referral of impaired professionals to appropriate services;
  • To provide outreach and education to healthcare facilities, professional organizations, and healthcare professional schools throughout the state of Tennessee to promote understanding of chemical impairment and the recovery process.