Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Skeletons In Your Closet?

This past week I went before the Nursing Board. Not only do they hear matters against nurses who licenses are being charged but also cases of individuals who have completed their nursing education and now want to sit for the test.

Some have skeletons in their closet such as a previous DUI conviction or some such criminal matter.

Once you check “yes” to any of the questions on your license application, for example, a previous criminal conviction, the Board will want to see you and ask you questions.

I find it interesting that some of these nurses were able to proceed all the way through nursing school, paying all that money for tuition, perform their clinicals in hospital settings yet not know whether they will be allowed to take the NCLEX examination.

The goal of nursing schools is to make money by having prospective nurses enroll and pay tuition. Therefore, if there is a previous criminal matter, the school doesn’t seem to be concerned. However, these nursing students are providing care in the hospitals and I have wondered if the hospitals knew of the backgrounds of some of these students, would the hospital allow them to perform their clinicals?

Three situations in particular struck me in recent months. (As a matter of disclosure, none were my clients and all of these cases are a matter of public record). First was a nursing student who just completed her L.P.N. education. Previously she had a pharmacy certificate and was working at a pharmacy right after graduating from high school. At the pharmacy, she stole a bottle of hydrocodone for her boyfriend. The boyfriend had no medical issues or pain, so the logical assumption was that he wanted the hydrocodone for the purpose of selling the bottle.

The second situation was a nursing student who just graduated from R.N. school. She was previously working as an L.P.N. with a criminal conviction for assuming a false name and practicing after her license had been revoked.

The last situation involved a woman who had a substance abuse issue and was driving under the influence when she had an auto accident resulting in the deaths of 2 people. She was convicted of negligent homicide and served 4 years in prison. One turn of events for her is that she was remorseful and since the accident has remained sober ever since.

This trio of examples is the type of tough issues and moral dilemmas that the Nursing Board encounters.

Should you be contemplating going to nursing school but have a skeleton in your closet, I suggest that before investing the time and energy to go to nursing school that you make sure you will be unhampered in your ability to test and practice after your education is completed.

Can you imagine how horrible it would be to have paid all that money and spent all that effort in learning and training only to find out that the Board would prohibit you from taking the test?

I would like to see the Board, the hospitals and the nursing schools get together so that a decision could be made up front before one invests the money, time and energy in an education which may not culminate in that person being allowed to work in the profession.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment.

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