Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Become a Nurse if You Have Criminal Charges on File?

One of the most common questions I am asked concerns how to go about becoming a nurse when you have a criminal record stemming from domestic problems such as a very messy ending to a marriage or relationship.

Nurses are the most trusted professionals for Honesty and Ethics as evidenced by annual Gallup Polls from 2002 to the present. That means nurses have to live up to a strict code of standards and need to have a squeaky clean background. Domestic issues can become very messy with charges being filed at every breath.

Usually the writer tells me a story of being the victim and says they can get the charges expunged. So this is the FIRST step you need to take and DO IT as soon as you can!!! Don't wait.

Get away from the situation. If this means you need to move, make every effort to do so. It shows that you are trying to stay out of trouble with this person and that it isn't going to be an easy thing for them to continue to harass you and press charges that don't stick. If you have a legal system in place, seek their advice and help to do this.

Contact your state's Board of Nursing and explain your situation and follow their advice to the letter.

When you apply for nursing school, make an appointment with the Dean and discuss your situation. Let him/her know what the Board of Nursing has told you and present copies of all your paperwork showing all charges have been dropped and expunged from your record.

You might be able to attend and even graduate from a nursing school, but you will NOT be able to sit for the NCLEX if you have a criminal record that has not been expunged.  If you can't take the NCLEX, you cannot practice as a nurse.

Many states require fingerprinting before they will issue your license. Employers will run a background check, and these can vary with the company providing the information. So be upfront with potential employers and let them know ahead of time that you have expunged your record of these charges. Should they show up in the background check or fingerprinting process, you have the paperwork to prove they have been resolved.

Never try to cover up or be untruthful about having been involved in something illegal. Get all of the information, take the necessary steps to resolve the problem right away, and keep copies of all of the paperwork. Keep an extra copy in a safe place away from your home as well. Take action to stay out of the situation in the future.

Don't try to just ignore the situation and hope no one finds out. That can be more detrimental to your career. Trust is an essential trait for nurses and if you are not honest, you will find yourself looking for another career.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why Nurses Need Professional Liability Insurance

A Guest post from Robert Hauser...

All medical professionals should have a good malpractice policy in place, including nurses. A lot of nurses think they are immune from malpractice claims; after all, it is doctors who are most commonly sued, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Nurses can be sued for malpractice as well, and a nurse who is not protected by a nursing liability insurance policy is in danger of losing his or her career and even being forced into bankruptcy.

Malpractice is defined as damage or injury to a patient that is the result of misconduct, negligence or breach of duty on the part of a professional in charge of the patient’s care. There are many reasons a nurse might be sued for malpractice, but the most common reasons include failure to follow standards of care, failure to communicate, failure to use equipment responsibly, failure to assess and monitor, failure to document and failure to act as patient advocate.

No professional would ever deliberately commit any of these acts, but everyone is human and everyone makes an occasional mistake. Nor do any of these offenses have to actually be committed; groundless lawsuits are filed every day. An accusation may be untrue, but that does not mean the accused will not have to pay to defend the lawsuit.

Nurse malpractice insurance protects the policyholder from having to pay the cost of defending a malpractice suit. It also ensures that the defendant will not have to pay any judgments. A nurse that is not covered by malpractice insurance will have to pay both of these expenses out of pocket. Defense costs alone can force many people into bankruptcy; paying a judgment is even more ruinous.

These problems can all be prevented by the purchase of a simple insurance policy. Like all forms of insurance, the cost of nursing liability insurance often varies due to the insured’s background, location and years of experience. Malpractice insurance also has a deductible and a limit to coverage, just like automotive or homeowner’s insurance. The policyholder can select the limits and deductible that is right for him or her. Naturally, the policy’s premium will change accordingly. The average cost of malpractice insurance for nurses is only a few hundred dollars per year. This isn’t a lot of money compared to the peace of mind that results from being insured and not having to worry about the consequences of a lawsuit.

Robert Hauser writes about financial planning, risk management and liability insurance for professionals