10 ways to lose your nursing license


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Although we’d like to believe that every nurse is a good person with good intentions, we can’t ignore the fact that every year, state nursing boards revoke dozens of licenses.

While some of these men and women lose them for non-nurse related activities, others suffer the consequences of patient endangerment or worse. The threat of having your license revoked is ever-present and it’s important to know just what activities can take it away.

Of course, there are many more reasons your nursing license may be revoked, and the decision is ultimately up to your state board. Be sure to regularly familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and procedures.

1. Addicted Nurse Not in Good Recovery Program

We’ve all heard the story – the nurse with the back pain who gets prescribed Vicodin. After her pain has subsided, she slips herself a painkiller on the side. And then a few more. And more still. Soon, she is addicted. While abusing narcotics is reason enough to lose your nursing license, many boards will suspend your license and require you to enter an addiction recovery group. There are even recovery groups just for nurses.

If you complete therapy and remain clean, you can retain your license. However, if you refuse to enter recovery or continue to abuse substances while in recovery, your state board can revoke your license. Because nurses are near so many prescriptions, employers know that some may be tempted to indulge. So think again if you’re toying with the idea of slipping a few pills under the table.

2. Impersonating Another Licensed Practitioner

Believe it or not, this happens. And employers sometimes don’t catch it for years. A wannabe nurse may have a felony conviction that will prevent him from getting a license, or she may have had her own license revoked in the past. Whatever the case, identity theft is plausible if these “nurses” can obtain the correct papers. If you’re caught impersonating another nurse, whatever license you may or may not have will be immediately revoked by your state board, and that will stay on your record.

3. Diversion of Drugs

Slipping yourself or someone else drugs on the side is a serious offense, punishable by revocation of your license and jail time. If your aging father has taken all of his pain meds, leave it to his doctors to prescribe more or up his dosage. It’s not worth risking your career to boost someone else’s addiction.

Getting your license revoked is the least of your worries in this case. Diverting drugs with intention to sell, or actually selling prescription drugs, can get you thrown in jail for many years. Even if you are strapped for cash, don’t do it!

Continue to the next career deal breaker…

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6 Responses to 10 ways to lose your nursing license

  1. lakota

    I have a Supervisor that is very inappropriate, she relieves herself of gas at the nursing station constantly, is very demeaning when she talks to me, never looks me in the eye, talks around me, tries to find fault in what I do, talks dirty and pornographic. Anyone else have a Supervisor from you know where? Any ideas on how to deal with this?


    Concerned about the many spelling errors in your articles……

  3. JerZFox

    For not being perfect.

  4. mcoburn38

    I was suspended from work for a piece of paper that I had written the names and dosages of 3 narcotics on was found. I was told “this makes us suspect you are stealing meds.” I offered a drug screen immediately, have admin search my car, purse and work bag, all of which were declined by admin. Is a SUSPECTION of stealing meds a reason to revoke my liscense?

    • pegster278

      I often write names of medications on a piece of paper, especially if I am not familiar with them. I research them at home on my laptop to find out if they safe for the elderly.

  5. pegster278

    I work in a an assisted living facility. I was suspended for kissing a female resident on her cheek. This lady treats me like her daughter, I know I am not her daughter, but I feel very close to her. Is this considered abuse, if yes how???