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Nursing not only requires highly specific education but also a state license to ensure compliance with current professional regulations.

I thought getting my initial licensure was difficult, but I was surprised to discover that it was even more stressful to protect my license after earning it.

What Charges Can Stop You From Being a Nurse?

Because the lives of patients are in the hands of the nurse, it is vital for nurses to practice safely at all times. From honest mistakes to purposeful neglect, certain educational and criminal acts could bar a nurse from receiving her initial license or from practicing in the future.

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Academic and Criminal Reasons for Nursing Licensure Revocation

Academic and Criminal Reasons for Nursing Licensure Revocation
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The academic and criminal reasons for nursing licensure revocation.

Nursing licenses were not made mandatory in the United States until 1947 and were used as a way to ensure that nurses had completed a certain level of education and were knowledgeable enough to care for their patients safely.

Today, there are even more hoops hopeful nurses have to jump through to get their initial licenses and far more reasons for a current nurse to be barred from practice than there were just over 70 years ago.

Initial and renewal licensure fees are not steep when compared to a nurse’s hourly wage, but the ultimate cost of nursing license revocation is dizzying.

Unfortunately, some nurses are charged with criminal intent every year due to everything from purposeful harm to negligence.

There are also some well-meaning nurses who lose their licenses for errors that they actively worked to avoid or for simple mistakes caused by the click of a mouse button or a misunderstood order.

I was always concerned that this could happen to me while working in a fast-paced intensive care unit.

Therefore, I frequently checked orders twice, asked other nurses to check my conclusions and put a high priority on documenting everything I did with each patient to protect me in the case of a lawsuit.

Despite taking similar precautions, numerous nurses in this frequently understaffed profession lose their licenses every year or are barred from receiving their initial licensure due to one of the following issues.

1. Not Attending an Approved, Accredited Institution

Choosing the right college or university for nursing instruction is vital as most state nursing boards require licensure applicants to have attended a state-approved and state-accredited school.

Applicants must be sure to do plenty of research beforehand because some schools are approved by their states but are not accredited.

Additionally, students must know the pre-examination and pre-licensure requirements of their particular state’s Board of Nursing.

This video gives some hints about the process of becoming a nurse.

2. Failing the NCLEX Examination

Of course, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before you receive your state licensure.

If you do fail, you will receive the opportunity to retake the NCLEX after 45 days, which gives you plenty of time to study problem areas.

In fact, candidates can retake the NCLEX up to eight times per year as long as the 45-day window is followed.

3. Not Completing Continuing Education

Once you have your nursing license, you must follow your state board’s protocols for continuing education before license renewal.

Each state has different requirements for continuing education hours and specific topics that you must cover. This effective education is designed to keep you current with medical research and new nursing regulations.

4. Allowing Your License to Become Inactive

If you fail to renew your license on time due to personal reasons, lack of continuing education hours, or forgetfulness, your license could lapse, barring you from working as a nurse until you are in good standing with your state board once again.

To get your license back to an active status, you may have to pay a fee, provide a new set of fingerprints or show proof of continuing education hours depending on your state’s requirements.

In some cases, you may need to retake the NCLEX if your license has been expired for a number of years.

5. Committing a Criminal Felony

Certain criminal acts can completely bar you from working as a nurse.

These include aggravated murder, robbery and arson along with kidnapping, rape and sexual battery. In some instances, misdemeanors, such as drunk driving or drug possession, could also cause licensure suspension.

In any of these cases, it is vital for nurses to work with an attorney who will try to get false charges expunged and licenses reinstated when possible.

6. Not Following Federal and State Nursing Regulations

Every state’s Board of Nursing has rules relating to nurse delegation, reportable offenses and more.

Most instances of license revocation in these circumstances are unintended as many nurses do not know their state’s specific rules.

However, this demonstrates why reading your state board’s requirements is beneficial.

7. Harming or Killing a Patient Through Negligence

When a nurse does not provide the proper level of care to a patient, this could lead to license suspension and an investigation.

Some examples could include failing to provide adequate nutrition and water, failing to create a safe environment or accidentally giving an incorrect medication dosage.

In my experience, documenting everything carefully and double-checking my work is vital to avoiding this potential problem.

8. Working While Impaired

Of course, working while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is forbidden as it could lead to accidental errors.

However, nurses must also remember that they could be impaired due to physical exhaustion, legally prescribed medications and even mental health disorders.

In these cases, you must seek work clearance from your physician before returning to your job.

Protect Your License and Career Today

Protecting your nursing license can be as simple as knowing your state board’s rules and working carefully and conscientiously at all times.

Have you ever had your license suspended or worked with someone whose license has been revoked? Let me know in the comments.

Find Your Next Nursing Job
Use the NurseMoneyTalk job board to look for and apply to great nursing jobs near you.

Have You Read These Yet?

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few different criminal charges that can disqualify you from nursing. The most common is a felony charge, which can prevent you from getting your nursing license. Finally, there are some charges that may not necessarily be criminal, but can still disqualify you from nursing. These include charges of professional misconduct or patient abuse.

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