1. Section Editor(s): Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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How many times have you heard nurses comment that some action or perhaps inaction will place their license at risk? I'd venture to bet that most of these situations revolve around a concerning aspect of patient care. However, after spending a few eye-opening years as a Board of Nursing president, I realized that the more common threats to a nursing license aren't always front and center on a nurse's radar screen. Here's my short list of critically important, sometimes overlooked, actions to protect one of your most valuable assets:

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#1: Take the time to actually read your Nurse Practice Act and the rules and regulations that accompany it in the states where you hold licensure. These documents exist to protect the public. Every state is different. If a breach occurs, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.


#2: Know your license renewal date and complete the renewal requirements as soon as humanly possible. Don't let a renewal notice fall into a black hole or wait until the last minute. A wise nursing instructor once advised me to renew my license the day I received notification to do so. Practicing on an expired license can be grounds for disciplinary action, both on the state level and by an employer.


#3: Realize that you're a nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether or not you're at work. What you do in your personal life can impact your nursing license. Being arrested for driving while intoxicated, for example, or engaging in any criminal offense that results in a prosecution will give a professional licensing board cause to take disciplinary action on a nursing license. Sanctions can range from reprimand to revocation. Even failure to pay child support or tax evasion can lead to professional discipline in some states. Your license may also be jeopardized by what your family members or friends do in your home, with or without your awareness-selling or distributing drugs or illegal substances, for example.


A nursing license is the passport to a nursing career. For most, it's also a lifeline to financial stability and even job mobility. It lets us practice our art and science, as well as reap the socioeconomic benefits derived from professional practice. Know the rules-don't be taken by surprise!


Until next time-


Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM

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Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2013 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.