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Injustices In Nursing

I received an anonymous letter in the mail from one of my readers in response to an article I had written.  She was concerned that nothing was being done about some of the injustices in nursing.

At first I felt bad that for whatever reason my article didn’t benefit her.  I know not everyone is going to resonate with my message, but my goal is to learn whatever I can from any negative comments.

There are so many injustices in nursing and just to note a few:

  1. If a nurse takes controlled substances for a long period of time, she/he is considered by the Board of Nursing and the Nurse Assistance Program to be impaired although prescribed by a physician.
  2. To participate in a Nurse Assistance Program, one must be free of all controlled substances, including medication for ADD, narcolepsy, panic attacks and seizures.
  3. The Board is supposed to be rehabilitative yet, because it takes so long for action to be taken against your license, their action is punitive.
  4. If you go into a diversion program for substance use or abuse rather than plead guilty for felony theft to criminal charges, you will find yourself on the Office of the Inspector General’s Exclusion List and not be allow to take care of Medicare or Medicaid patients for a period of 5 years.
  5. When you have a substance abuse problem, you are treated like a criminal rather a person having a disease.

These are just a few.  Now, what we do about them?

First, it is difficult to make change alone.  To make change, you have to create a win-win situation.  What’s in it for the State, the Board or the Attorney General’s Office to make the appropriate changes and what’s in it for you?

Here are ways to make change.

  1. Create a petition on change.org and other sites. Although a petition does little in and of itself, it gets a group of people with the same problem together who want to see a change.
  2. Talk to your senator or representative in your State legislature. They are voted into office by you so if enough approach them with the same issue, the legislators may be spurred to act.  Again, approach it from a win-win, problem-solving position rather than just stating that “this needs to change!”
  3. Talk to your State Nurses Association. They are involved with monitoring legislative activity that affects nurses as well as help promulgate the necessary laws on which legislators should consider action.

While I don’t have the answers, only suggestions, to the injustices in nursing, I do believe that it is nurses who have the answers and for every problem there is a solution.

Now comes the task of finding the right solution and moving it forward.  What solutions do you have and how can we work together to resolve these issues?  Please leave your comments below and share with other nurses.

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

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