Although we would like to believe that every nurse is a good person with good intentions, we can’t ignore the fact that every year, state nursing boards revoke dozens of licenses. While some of these men and women lose their ability to serve as nurses because of non-nurse related activities, others suffer the consequences of patient endangerment or worse. The threat of having your license revoked is ever-present, and it is important to know just what activities can take it away. Of course, there are many more reasons your nursing license may be revoked, and the decision is ultimately up to your state board. Be sure to regularly familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and procedures. 

  1. Addicted Nurse Not in Good Recovery Program. We’ve all heard the story – the nurse with the back pain who gets prescribed Viodin. After her pain has subsided, she slips herself a little extra pain-killer on the side. And then a little more. And more still. Soon, she is addicted and it’s getting out of control. While abusing narcotics is reason enough to lose your nursing license, many board will suspend your license and require you enter an addiction recovery group. There are even recovery groups just for nurses in this position. If you complete your therapy and remain clean, you can retain your license. However, if you refuse to enter recovery or continue to abuse drugs/alcohol while in recovery, your state boar can revoke your license. Because nurses are near a infinite number of prescriptions, employers know that some may be tempted to indulge. So think again if you are toying with the idea of slipping a few pills under the table.
  2. Impersonating Another Licensed Practitioner. Believe it or not, this happens. And employers sometimes don’t catch it for years. A wannabe nurse may have a felony conviction that will prevent him from getting a license, or she may have had her own license revoked in the past. Whatever the case, identity theft is plausible if these “nurses” can obtain the correct papers. Whatever license you may or may not have will be immediately revoked by your state board, and that will stay on your record.
  3. Diversion of Drugs. Slipping yourself, or someone you know, drugs on the side is a serious offense, punishable by revocation of your license and jail time. If your aging father has taken all of his pain meds, leave it to his doctors to prescribe more or up his dosage. It’s not worth risking your career to boost someone else’s addiction, no matter who it is. Getting your license revoked is the least of your worries in this case. Diverting drugs with intention to sell, or actually selling prescription drugs, can get you thrown in jail for many years. Even if you are strapped for cash, don’t do it!
  4. Providing a False Copy of License. Although rare, this does occur. Nurses who have a suspended license may provide an employer with a fake license, thinking that once their suspension is up it won’t matter. It does matter, though – especially if your employer finds out. The license you may have will be revoked, or, if you don’t have a license, you will not be allowed to ever apply for a license.
  5. Mail Fraud. Mail fraud encompasses many felonies. Broadly speaking, mail fraud involves using the postal service to unlawfully obtain money or valuables, impersonate someone other than yourself, or stealing someone else’s mail. There are many kind of mail fraud including work-from-home scams, solicitation disguised as an invoice, and online auction fraud. Mail fraud may not be directly related to nursing, but it can directly affect your career if you are convicted. Mail fraud is yet another way you can lose your license.
  6. Falsifying Patient Records. Maybe you had been working 12 hours and were too tired to complete that patient record. Maybe you gave your patient a little extra morphine to help him get through the night, but you didn’t record it. Whatever the case, falsifying patient records is grounds for license revocation. In the best-case scenario, your falsified record gets you in trouble, but doesn’t affect anyone else. Worst-case scenario? Something happens to your patient.
  7. Unprofessional Conduct.  This broad term allows state boards to be subjective in judging why a nurse might get his license revoked. “Unprofessional conduct” can range from using inappropriate language around colleagues and patients to having an affair with a superior. Although it seems obvious, many nurses fail to understand why their conduct may be called into question. The level of professionalism in the nursing field is of the utmost importance, and employers won’t take kindly to those few nurses who exhibit inappropriate behavior of any sort. First-time offenders may only be reprimanded or suspended temporarily, but keep it up and you may be out of a job before you know it.
  8. Hosting a Pornographic Website. Believe it or not – it happens. Just this last year, a nurse in Pennsylvania got her licensed revoked because she was hosting her own pornographic website. This most likely falls under “Unprofessional Conduct,” and it’s easy to chuckle at. But with today’s advancements in technology, and the widespread range of the internet, nurses who use their webcams to do a little work on a side may find themselves without a job.
  9. Patient Abuse and Neglect. Sadly, this is quite obvious and, even worse, happens more often than we’d like to admit. Patient neglect and abuse can happen because a nurse is intentionally causing pain and/or suffering, or because of a simple mistake because a nurse is over-worked or has too many patients. One of the most serious offenses, patient neglect and abuses affects more than just the nurse, and even more than just the patient. The patient’s friends and family must also suffer alongside him/her, making this grave offense even worse. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Many times, a nurse doesn’t neglect a patient on purpose, but her forgetfulness can cause more damage than imagined and result in the loss of her license.
  10. Violating Probation. If you have previous offenses filed with the nursing board, they may place you on probation – this can restrict your practice or your personal habits (such as using alcohol and/or drugs). If you violate the terms of your probation, your license may be revoked. Being placed under probation is a warning in the hopes that a nurse will change his behavior so that he can continue working. However, if that behavior continues, or a nurse willfully goes against the rules their state board has set, she can be punished to the furthest extent of the board.