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Nurses not trained to defend their licenses

Any number of episodes in your life could have drawn you to a career in nursing. Some people are attracted to nursing because they saw an exciting movie or TV show in which a nurse showed strength and courage. People often enter the field after watching the caring attention of a nurse when a loved one was sick or dying. Maybe you always loved to pretend you were nursing your family or pets, and helping people comes naturally to you.

You likely spent years - maybe decades - studying and working toward your goal of being a nurse. Like many in your profession, you probably have tens of thousands of dollars in student loans and other debt acquired on the path toward becoming certified and licensed. However, after hearing of incidents in which nurses have had their licenses suspended or revoked, you may be feeling nervous about your own career.

Your license may be surprisingly vulnerable

In one recent year, nursing boards in Arizona and across the country revoked the licenses of over 2,000 nurses and suspended almost 5,000 more. An increasing number of nurses are losing their privileges to practice because of addictions to alcohol, amphetamines or opioids. However, your license could be suspended for simple mistakes or misunderstandings. In fact, licensing experts warn that all nurses should be aware of how tenuous their careers can become.

Some ways in which you may unwittingly jeopardize your nursing career include:

  • Obeying orders without question even when those instructions make you uncomfortable
  • Accepting assignments or duties for which you have inadequate training
  • Acting unprofessionally or inappropriately while wearing your scrubs in public, even when you are off the clock
  • Posting inappropriate comments or pictures about your job, your patients, or illicit or illegal behaviors you engage in privately
  • Talking to others about any official complaints with the licensing board before getting legal counsel

While it may seem unfair that your private life is under scrutiny, people may judge your behavior, especially if it suggests a compromise in your judgement or your ability to perform your job well, such as a DUI charge or drug use.

Advice you may not learn in nursing school

Protecting your license and your hard-earned career is important to you. Therefore, if you should find yourself placed on probation or facing a licensing hearing, you will want to take every step to ensure your job is safe and your reputation as a quality health care professional remains intact.

Legal counsel in this situation is highly recommended. An attorney with experience defending nurses before the Arizona State Board of Nursing understands the disciplinary actions you may face and how to defend against them. Such an attorney will also be a powerful advocate if you need to appeal a decision the Board has already made.

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