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Unprofessional conduct may cost you your nursing license

Most of the threats to your nursing license are obvious offenses or violations of legal boundaries. Diversion of drugs, falsifying records or abusing patients all commonly cost nurses their licenses. However, most of these behaviors are easy to avoid with some common sense. Unfortunately, some grounds for losing your nursing license are far more subjective and may create room for unfair license revocation.

State boards that review complaints against licensed nurses may strip someone of their license for many reasons, including "unprofessional conduct." This term is intentionally broad, granting boards the flexibility to punish a licensed nurse who engages in offensive or disruptive behavior that is not usually illegal or even frowned upon in other contexts.

For instance, you may face the revocation of your license for something as relatively trivial as inappropriate language around patients and colleagues. While it is understandable that a board may wish to retain this flexibility, it creates a wide open opportunity for nurses to lose their licenses for petty reasons. Similarly, it creates opportunities a superior or colleague to take advantage of a conflict that should not reasonably jeopardize a nurse's livelihood.

After all, how many patients, when they are in desperate need of medical attention to relieve pain or avoid serious long-term injury or death, would prefer no care at all to professional, skilled care by a fellow imperfect human being?

If you believe that your license is unfairly threatened, reach out to an experienced attorney who understands California's licensing systems and make sure that you understand how to fight unfair allegations. Even if you committed some foolish act that justifies a review, you shouldn't sit back and let a group of strangers decide if you should keep practicing. Professional legal counsel guides you through the steps of defending your license while protecting your rights and future.

Source:, "10 Ways to Lose Your Nursing License," accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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