As I begin to write this article, some of things that I will say in it are tongue in cheek but, in all seriousness, everything here is true.
1. FAILING TO KEEP BOARD APPRISED OF YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS:
I am surprised how many nurses forget to give the Licensing Board their current address, especially if the address is for licenses in multiple States. It is important to give each Board your current address. My suggestion is to keep a list of all the places you need to notify if you ever move from one place so that you don’t forget to let the Board know that you moved.
If the Board does not have your current address, and they send you a letter, they will respond without your input. Most actions begin with an investigation for which they send you a letter to you asking for your response and your side of the story. If the mail does not reach you, the Board will come to their own conclusion and could even file an emergency suspension of your license if they feel you are a clear and immediate danger to the public.
If there is a hearing on your matter and you fail to show up because you didn’t receive the notice, the Board will issue a default and take action anyway with you not being able to give your side of the story.
I have had several calls where the nurse says, “I just found out that my license is suspended. How could that happen?” When we go through the information it has turned out often that the nurse had not given the Board their current address.
2. HAVING SEX WITH A PATIENT:
This or even just a romantic relationship with a patient is wrong. There are clear boundaries in nursing which must be followed. I’m not kidding when I say this but you would be surprised that there are some nurses who have sex with patients, a clear violation of the Nurse Practice Act.
3. BEING AN IMPAIRED NURSE:
Approximately 10% of nurses have a substance abuse problem. For those of us who don’t, it seems, “Well, of course this won’t happen to me.” However, I see nurses who have some type of surgery or have an injury and are prescribed controlled substances and they become hooked. This can happen to you, it is important that you get help immediately rather than just ignore the problem and continue to work, hiding the problem and hoping no one will find out.
4. FRAUD OR DISHONESTY:
There recently was a situation before the Board where a person who was an LPN pretended to be an R.N. by taking someone else’s license and number. She eventually was caught and did have criminal charges filed against her. She paid the price and many years later, she went back to school in the hopes of becoming an R.N. and then tried to get her license.
She went to school for nothing because the Board denied her license. As a nurse it is no surprise that we are voted the most trusted profession in the United States. Be honest in your documentation, on your license application and job applications. If you were terminated from a job, you must disclose that on your license renewal application. You must be honest in answering all the questions. It is better to be honest because it shows your character.
5. ACTING OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF YOUR LICENSE:
Another way to lose your license is to act outside the scope of your license. If you are calling in prescriptions for a physician, be sure to document the verbal order to call in the prescription. If you receive a verbal order in the hospital, be sure to document that order. Otherwise, it can be construed as practicing medicine without a license. You may not lose your license with these examples but you don’t want to find out.
Remember: document, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! Be honest! Don’t have a relationship with a patient! Don’t take drugs! And keep the Board apprised of your address! If you want to lose your license, just ignore any of these words of advice. However, if you follow these pearls of wisdom, hopefully you will never confront that horrible fear of “will I lose my license.”