Nursing can be a rewarding profession. As much as it can wear you down, it can leave you knowing, each day, that you made a difference. There aren’t many other professions in which you might save so many lives or help so many people recover their health. Nor are there many professions that are more heavily regulated.
As a nurse, you assume responsibility for your patients’ health, and the State of California wants to make sure you live up to the standard. In some cases, that may mean investigating a complaint filed against you. These investigations are far more common than you might expect, and if you ever find yourself the subject of one, you’ll want to respond appropriately.
An investigation may have far-reaching consequences
It takes years to earn a nursing license, and no nurse wants to see their license suspended or revoked. Nor do most nurses want to endure probation or live with other disciplinary measures that might cripple their careers. While you might feel that you can explain your actions clearly, it’s important to remember that the BRN functions much like a court. The language you use and the way you frame your arguments are important, and the outcome may play a big part in shaping your future.
So, what types of complaints does the Board of Registered Nursing review? The Board looks at a wide range of possible complaints, including:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Fraud or theft
- Violent or abusive conduct
- Unlicensed activity
- Patient neglect or incompetence that place patients at risk
When you get a letter saying that your conduct or professionalism has been questioned, the right response might help keep the matter from blowing up. It is sometimes possible to limit the disclosure of information and bring an end to the investigation. And when the investigation continues, it’s important to understand your role.
During an investigation, the BRN may work with a Nursing Education Consultant to review the case. A sworn officer may conduct interviews. These people are often looking for ways you might have failed, and nurses are often well-advised to seek counsel before responding to them.
Held to a higher standard
As a nurse, you are held to a higher standard of professionalism and responsibility than most. And like those nurses who recently had their case seen before the Delaware Supreme Court, you’ll need to make your own case. You don’t want to try shifting the blame for your mistakes onto someone else.
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone faces complaints. But not all complaints are the same. How you respond to a BRN investigation can change the shape of your career.