This month’s Legal Clinic installment in AJN is called “Common Misconceptions About Nurse Licensure.” Author Edie Brous, a nurse and attorney, lists these misconceptions:

  • 1. Nursing boards are nursing advocates. Not so, says Brous; they’re there to protect the public. “Because nurses care for vulnerable populations, the state that issues a nursing license has a social contract with the public to ensure that the licensee is qualified, competent, and ethical.”
  • 2. Private Conduct Isn’t Relevant to One’s Performance in a Professional Capacity. In fact, it can matter to a nursing board. The reasoning: “Conduct that reflects questionable judgment, impairment, or lapses in moral character may suggest to the board that a nurse poses a potential threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the public.” Ever neglect payment of student loans, child support, or taxes; have a substance abuse problem; commit a crime? It might be relevant.
  • 3. Disciplinary action taken by a state pertains only to that state. Not so: there’s a computerized system called Nursys (Nurse System) where nursing boards enter actions they take against a nurse and learn about actions taken elsewhere.
  • 4. Licensure is a right. “Rights are entitlements that are considered inherent and inalienable so they cannot be revoked, but privileges are granted by the state and are therefore conditional. As such, a nursing license may be restricted or revoked upon determination that the license holder poses a risk to the public.”

The article goes into more detail on these misconceptions and offers useful tables comparing differences among states in terms of licensure, mandatory reporting, and the roles of boards of nursing. Read the article. Get the facts. Let us know your experience.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

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Related posts on boards of nursing and their role:

“The Case of Amanda Trujillo”

“Boards of Nursing and the Amanda Trujillo Case”

“State Boards of Nursing: Can They Protect the Public from Unsafe Nurses?”

“Buyer Beware: Most Online Nursing Schools Are Reputable, but How Do you Know?”

“Criminal Nurses: Who’s Looking Out for the Public’s Safety?”