Log in | Join

Do Boards of Nursing Eat Their Young?

Ask any nurse and they will tell you they have heard the expression, “nurses eat their young!”  Unfortunately, members of the nursing profession are known not to be supportive of each other, especially the newer younger nurses.

I look at Boards of Nursing as a microcosm of what is happening in the profession where nurses eat their young, talk down to each other and punish without rehabilitating.  The same is true with Nursing Boards.

The job of the Board of Nursing is to protect the public and not the nurse.  If there are any concerns about safety to the public, the Board will take action no matter how long ago or how minor your actions have been!

The Board operates under what’s called administrative law.  There are statutes that formed the Board and gives them the power to make rules and regulations as well as to make decisions regarding the practice of nursing and nursing education in their State.

The Board has its own attorney and the State is represented by the Attorney General’s office.  Yet, many nurses go before the Board of Nursing without representation.  Why is this?  Do they think the Board will be their friend?  Do they think that because the Board is composed of nurses, they will understand their situation and, somehow, forgive the nurse?

There should be a line between letting employers handle professional issues versus the Board.  For instance, if a nurse is fired for a 1 time isolated event and had been working safely for over a year, is it necessary for the Nursing Board to discipline that nurse?  Is it necessary for formal charges to be filed against that nurse that are a matter of public record for everyone to see … forever?

When can we trust employers to take the appropriate action so that the Nursing Board will not have to?  By not trusting employers, this creates extra work for the Board and it costs more to the taxpayers for the agency’s operations even though the Board members themselves are not paid.

I have seen nurses disciplined for speaking loudly to a patient with a hearing problem, asking a patient to walk 10 feet to get some movement in, borrowing medicine from a patient to provide to another who was out of theirs, and the list can go on and on.  You can find many other such examples in my book “Law and Order for Nurses: The Easy Way to Protect Your License and Your Livelihood.”

The Board’s job is to be rehabilitative and not punitive.  Yet, unfortunately, the Board seems to believe that to protect the public, strong action must be taken.  A simple reprimand usually is not enough.  The Board will consider probation or suspension rather than a reprimand.

The Board regulates nursing education in the State and is concerned about educational institutions that do not have a high enough pass rate on the NCLEX for their students to graduate.  They are concerned about schools closing and leaving students without being able to obtain their degree.  Yet, when it comes to a nurse who makes a simple mistake, they want to “throw the book at them!”

Yes … the Nursing Board does eat their young.

Some States have what is called an “alternative to discipline”.  This allows the nurse to get the rehabilitation, education and practice they need and it does not go against their license.  It’s an informal process where the nurse can be monitored yet the public need not know about the one mistake they made a couple of years before.

It would be nice if all States followed that practice.

Why must a nurse who is in recovery and doing well for a medical issue of substance abuse be subjected to the humiliation of having their most private medical issue and transgression on display for all the public to see?

When nurses start treating each other with respect and dignity, including the Nursing Board, this will be the only way that we will be able to get our power back in nursing.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Board of Nursing in your State and what you think.  Please leave your comments below.




About Lorie A Brown, R.N., M.N., J.D.

Speak Your Mind