How easy (or hard) is it to lose your nursing license?

How Easy/Hard is it to Lose Nursing License?

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Dear Counselor,

When I read some of the nursing forums on the Internet, there are a lot of discussions about nurses who are afraid of losing their nursing license, getting write ups and other stuff. I've wanted to become a nurse ever since I was a little girl and now I’m just a few months away of graduating with my bachelor’s. Is it that easy to lose your license? Thank you, Morganna


Dear Morganna,

Congratulations on being close to finishing your nursing program. Before you know it, you’ll be writing your NCLEX and have your nursing license in hand. Good for you!

There are many nursing boards and forums on the Internet and it’s true, it can be discouraging to read about so many nurses so fearful of losing their nursing license. Of course, this is always possible – but just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s probable.

First, we do have to understand that the state Board of Nursing has a serious job to do and that is regulate who works in the profession. They do this by monitoring who gets a nursing license and who keeps it. Reports of behavior that can put the public or other nurses in danger are not taken lightly and must be investigated. If something has occurred that requires discipline, which can include taking away the nursing license, then it must be done. However, this is not an action that is taken lightly so it may not be as easy to lose your nursing license as it may seem.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is human nature to share bad news and concerns, not good news. Internet forums on any topic will show this to be true. When you read a parenting forum, you read about the problems parents are having, not what’s working well, right?

So, what can cause the BoN to revoke your nursing license? Here are some examples:

Patient abuse or neglect

If you harm a patient through abuse or neglect your license may very likely be taken away. Your license is supposed to ensure that you will care for your patients and by abusing or neglecting them, you are not doing that. In addition to losing your license, you could face criminal charges in some situations.

Substance abuse

Nurses who abuse drugs or alcohol cannot be tolerated in nursing. While an addiction doesn’t automatically call for loss of license, it may. In many states, if you have a substance abuse problem and you report yourself to the BoN for your state, you will be given a chance to beat the problem and still keep your license. By offering nurses this chance, the nurses can seek help without fear of losing her job (as long as she follows the program as per the agreement). One such example is the Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program, or ISNAP, a service of the Indiana Board of Nursing.

Drug diversion

Whether the drugs are for you or for someone else, this is a very serious breach of trust and the law. This is rarely tolerated by any board of nursing and will result in legal action most times.

While there are other examples that could result in license revocation, you can see that these listed ones are quite serious and often deserving of revocation. If you have any concerns, you can always contact your own state’s BoN to see what their rules and regulations are.

Good luck!

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