Protect it with your life
One piece of advice I give to all nurses that I precept and especially new nurses/student nurses is that once you have your nursing license, protect it with you life.
Your license is what defines you as a professional. It gives you the ability to work, to live, to provide for your family. Without it, the career you have chosen is nothing.
An example I have is a friend of mine who is an RN as well. He was convicted of a DUI about seven years before he became a nurse. Then, after he had been a nurse for a few years, he received a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired). The Board of Nursing gave him the option of enrolling in state sponsored treatment program that lasts for two years. He had weekly meetings, weekly and/or monthly drug and alcohol testing and had to have documents completed by his employer stating that he was not having problems at work.
If he was successful in this program, he would not receive any type of stipulation attached to his license stating that he had drug and alcohol convictions.
After one year in the program, he had a positive urine test. He states it was from taking over-the-counter cold medication. Because of this infraction, he was suspended by the BON for two weeks, and the length of his treatment was extended for another year.
What my point is with this story, is that if he did not agree to this treatment program, he would have a stipulation on his license stating he had drug and/or alcohol convictions on his record, which would certainly raise eyebrows of prospective employees. And, in turn could cost him a job, or two, or three.
He is a great nurse and leader, but due to his issues he put his license and livelihood in jeopardy.
So, once you receive that paper saying you are nurse, and you are thinking about doing something that may get you in trouble, remember, not only will you be in trouble legally, but you may also lose your ability to work.
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Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed.
Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university.
Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.
By Rob Cameron