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5 Ways to Lose Your Nursing License

September 24th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

By visiting various nursing forums and participating in nursing chat rooms, you can find many conversations about nurses being afraid of losing their nursing license. While losing your license is a very legitimate concern, is it really as easy as so many nurses seem to think it is?

Of course, there are reasons that a nurse should lose his or her license; these are severe breaches of nursing ethics and also of society’s. But mistakes and small infractions shouldn’t automatically cause a nurse to fear having her license taken away.

Reasons Your License Could Be Taken Away

1 – Drug Addiction

Drug addiction itself isn’t a reason in itself to lose your license, however, not seeking help or dropping out of rehabilitation could be just cause. Nurses who don’t lose their license after discovery of a drug addiction should be aware that it may become very difficult to find a job, even though they can still legally practice.

2 – Diversion of Drugs

It’s one thing to use drugs, it’s even more serious to be taking drugs from the patients. Whether the drugs are for you or someone else, this is a very serious offense that won’t only result in possible revocation of your license, but could involve jail time, as well.

3 – Patient Abuse or Neglect

Patient abuse is an offense that should have no leeway. You abuse or neglect a patient, you lose your license. Your job, your commitment is to care for those who need it. While obvious abuse would involve physically or mentally harming a patient, it can also include not giving medications or giving too much, not providing the necessities of life, such as food, or by not providing care at all.

4 – Unprofessional Conduct

This area can be a bit gray, leaving it up to interpretation, but most of us know unprofessional conduct when we see it. It isn’t likely that a nurse who is acting unprofessionally who is caught for the first time would lose her license, but if the offense is repeated, taking away her license is an option.

5 – Breaking Probation

Nurses who are on probation for previous infractions, such as not performing nursing duties, being unprofessional, conviction of a crime, or other reasons, have very strict guidelines to follow. Nurses who break any of the guidelines while they are on probation are very likely going to lose their license temporarily, if not permanently.

Nurses aren’t perfect. As hard as we try to avoid making mistakes, we do. Some nurses also make some of the wrong choices. But there is a big difference between an honest mistake and a bad choice.

Would a nurse who makes a mistake no lose her license? That depends on the severity of the mistake and how many mistakes she has made. Every situation is unique, which is why investigations are made before decisions are handed down.

While most boards of nursing have the same set standards, there are some variations between the different states. You should be familiar with the law and nursing as it pertains to you in your particular state.

If you are a conscientious nurse and are honest and hard working, the chances of actually losing your license are not that high. Just do your best. That shows.

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Posted in On-the-Job Fears

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