I’m Not Putting My Nursing License on the Line

As Fidelity On Call celebrates 25 years in business, we have heard “I’m not putting my license on the line” from more nurses than we can count. As a matter of fact, if we had just a dollar for every time, we think we would be millionaires!

Most often this comment comes with a phone call on what is happening at a facility our nurse is assigned to. Of course, our nurse is upset as something is not right – could be inadequate staffing, or the quality of care given to the patients, safety issues or problems with the nursing team or supervisors at the facility or even more critical issues.

Because we only hire top-notches nurses, we know their concerns are valid and we will work to get it corrected. But it is important to remember that a facility problem is not a reflection on the nurse’s license.

So what is it that truly “puts your license on the line?”

– A hospital has a nurse who is working in an “alerted” state – slurred speech, eyes dilated, weaving when walking. A drug test is conducted and is returned “positive” for opioids. The nurse does not have a prescription to support what was in her system. There was also sufficient evidence to show that what was in her system came should have administered to a patient. That hospital – just like Fidelity On Call – is required to report any such occurrences to the State of Illinois for investigation. In many instances, the nurse’s license will be disciplined but she will be able to keep her license. That is, unless the nurse continues to positively test for drugs and fails to do what was directed in the disciplinary hearing.

– A nurse is caught diverting hydrocodone and alprazolam (Xanax) from the hospital where she works. The pharmacy calculated she diverted almost $10,000 worth of prescription drugs over a 12-month period. She was reported. Since she failed to even appear for the hearing where her case was to be discussed, her license was revoked.

– A registered nurse, who was the director of nursing (DON), falsified documents, fabricated information, and failed to put serious issues on care plans. Upon survey, the facility received multiple citations and the DON was terminated by the facility. Her license was revoked by default when she failed to come to the hearing where the formal charges were to be discussed.

It is extremely rare to revoke a nurse’s license over a medication error, unintentional harm or deviations from standard care. Statistically, licenses get revoked due to issues revolving around addiction, impaired practice, theft, diversion, and/or failure to complete the terms of an impaired nurse program as contractually agreed at a disciplinary hearing.

You can also see from our examples that failure to show for your disciplinary hearing most likely will result in your license being revoked.

We’ve Got Your Back

So often in life people are prone to state the negative vs saying something positive. How true in our business. Most customers don’t call to say – “Your nurses were amazing today;” or a nurse say, “I so appreciate what the office does for me.” So imagine our surprise when we recently received overwhelming praise from both our customers and our nurses on our office team within a matter of days. It felt wonderful . . . that is what we work for! But, it got us thinking. How important is it that we’ve got your back?

At Fidelity On Call, we do this for both our customers and our elite team of nurses. It is our mission in action.

If you are a facility and have any questions, we want to answer them. We also don’t just assign someone to your facility. We remain actively involved in the job they are doing.

If something is not right, we want to know. If we receive a negative comment or report, we don’t just file it. We call our nurse to discuss the situation with them. We need their input before we make a decision. Sometimes, we have to say that the nurse is not our quality (for whatever reason) and terminate them. If, however, there is more to the story, we will communicate back with the hospital and discuss the course of action. We never hear a negative without thoroughly checking it out – our customers and our nurses are always in the communication loop, because we’ve got your back.

We also don’t repeatedly have a nurse problem and just assign them to another facility. We know this is a standard practice with some companies – but not Fidelity. We will remain true to our mission and to our customers. It is counterproductive to simply put a problem nurse into another hospital.

Our employees know their attendance, willingness to work with our customers and be flexible, having a good attitude and showing off their abilities are all very important to our customers and their success, the success of your team and delivering the best in patient care. That is what we work for. When we receive a customer call that talks about our quality, what a great nurse we sent, or how they love (nurse name) and want them to stay for another contract, it energizes us.

Now, when it comes to our nurses, we work every day to make sure your know that we’ve got your back. Of course, we properly assign you – you know, in advance, exactly what you are agreeing to do at the hospital. More than likely, you have been interviewed by the hospital so you can ask any questions you might have regarding your assignment.

Your contract spells out exactly what we agreed to and we will not deviate from it. You will receive the rate of pay, tax-free allowance, bonus and days off we committed to and you accepted.

If you have a problem, we are on it for you. But, we don’t just stop there. Our internal team lets you know when you have a physical, TB, CPR or other documentation that is up for renewal. Our Accounting Department even calls if you don’t have your documentation in for a paycheck to be cut.

We can’t find another company that does that.

We send recognition cards with premiums for good reviews. We never forget a birthday or anniversary. We host contests to make participating fun! And, when it comes to benefits, we work hard to provide our team with the best health care around while working to make sure that the premiums don’t become unaffordable. We also strive to keep your deductible low. We are committed to making sure you know what a valuable part of our team you are.

So, when we had a series of appreciative comments, we were overjoyed. Here is one: “I want to thank the AMAZING support group that has hired, supported, and put up with me the last two years. Thank you all for your unending patience on every phone call, your lack of condemnation on consistently late time cards (I’m working on it, I promise), and for the simple fact I know if there is ever an issue in my professional career I have a group of powerful women who will support me no holds barred as long as I’m honest and returning the favor by supporting and correctly representing Fidelity On Call. Nursing is hard, it just is, but it is made so much easier by working for all of you.”

Yes, we’ve got your back. And, we really, really feel special when our customers and team members have a positive experience.

Can Social Media Destroy Your Nursing Career?

At Fidelity On Call we have a social media policy. And, it seems logical. If you need to vent about the hospital you are assigned to or about Fidelity On Call, you should do so in a proper manner and not on social media.

There have been many examples of nurses who were disciplined because of not following their company policies. We recently read an article where a registered nurse posted comments on her Facebook and Twitter pages criticizing the end-of-life care her grandfather received at a healthcare facility. She went on to say that she felt the staff was incompetent, questioned their compassion and whether they even cared about their residents/patient. She then went a step further and identified the facility.

She said, “As an RN and avid healthcare advocate myself, I just HAVE to speak up!” She then linked her post and comments to other pages and, of course, all of the discussion became public.

Needless to say, the facility filed a complaint against the nurse. After a very thorough investigation, it was determined that she:

  • Identified herself as a registered nurse in order to give credibility and legitimacy to her comments
  • Criticized the care given by other nurses
  • Knowingly made her comments widely available to the public
  • Did not get all the relevant facts regarding her grandfather’s care before posting her criticisms
  • Did not follow the appropriate organizational channels to express her concerns

The investigation revealed that the nurse had only been in the facility a few times and she received her communication from family members who reported to her.

She never discussed any concerns she had about her grandfather’s care directly with the facility. Additionally, prior to her post, she had only made one minor complaint about the facility and it related to a hand sanitizer.

After determining that the comments harmed the reputation of the nursing staff at the facility and undermined the public confidence in them, this nurse was disciplined.

In addition to a self-reflective essay, on-line education on ethics, a fine of $1,000 she had to pay $25,000 toward the costs of the proceedings (the actual costs were six times this much). Although the nurse appealed the decision, the ultimate finding was upheld.

This is just one example. We could, truthfully, go on and on about employee posts and the lack of restraint when hitting the internet.

With Social Media, it is always best to err on the side of caution

Never post about a facility you are assigned to or the patients you are caring for. You don’t even have to identify the facility or state that you are a nurse. Most of those who follow or have friended you, know you are a nurse and, chances are, someone at the facility you are assigned to is also a friend or follower.

Additionally, if a facilities’ staff member is upset over something and makes a post on social media, never comment on their post. It puts you directly in the line of fire.

Even social media posts that promise to “go away” in a matter of minutes or hours can hang around forever. What keeps someone from seeing it and snapping an image?

We think being aware of the pitfalls, using good common sense, and following a Social Media policy make your professional career much more enjoyable and certainly more drama free. It could even save you thousands of dollars!

Travel Nurse Stories: Tax-Free Allowances

“How could this happen. I owe thousands of dollars in taxes!”

By January 31 of every year, your W-2 is in the mail. And, every year we hear and read about travel nurses who are in panic mode because the taxes taken out of their wages are not enough to cover what is owed.

Some are short thousands of dollars.

They accepted contracts with low hourly pay rates so they could get a lot of “tax-free” money, but now their accountant is telling them that they will have to pay taxes on what they thought was tax-free money.

How is this possible?

Simply put, there is a limit to what a company can pay in tax-free allowances. The federal government sets guidelines for travel, meals, etc. and anything that is over those guidelines will be taxed.

That is why when Fidelity On Call calculates a contract, we are extremely careful to make sure we are doing the best we can for our nurse – hourly rate, tax-free allowance, bonus – but also taking care of them in the long run when it comes to their taxes. No one wants to owe the tax man a bundle of money!

So, we just caution you . . . if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

For more truth telling for travel nurses, download our free guide: 10 Top Myths of Travel Nursing.

25 Ways Our Travel Nurses Get Outstanding Comments

We are often asked what it takes to get outstanding customer comments on our travel nurse team. Here is a small sampling:

1 They have strong clinical skills.

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2 They are willing to go above and beyond.

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3 They truly enjoy taking the best care of their patients.

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4 They work well with the team they are part of.

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5 They always do the right thing because it reaps rewards.

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6 They are not afraid to jump in and do their fair share.

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7 They happily accept the hospital’s holiday policies and do their part.

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8 They realize that they are the hospital’s ambassadors to their patients.

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9 They have helpful attitudes – even when going on break -they ask if staff/their patients/patient’s family members need anything brought back.

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10 They never identify themselves as anything other than a part of the hospital team.

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11 They are flexible when taking lunch.

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12 If there is a question or a problem, they always handle it professionally. They would never raise their voice in anger.

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13 They are there to work not share personal problems or talk about other issues.

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14 They don’t gossip or talk negatively about their work team, supervisor, or hospital.

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15 They are dependable.

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16 They are flexible when the hospital is asking them to help out and willing to flip shifts.

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17 They don’t create crisis or conflict.

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18 They are honest and you can believe what they tell you.

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19 Even when the going gets tough, they smile and have a good attitude about getting their job done.

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20 They would only call off for a legitimate emergency.

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21 They can work independently while still being part of the team.

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22 They appropriately document what they do.

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23 They follow the policies and procedures of the company and the hospital.

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24 They are great communicators. Not only with the hospital, their patients, and the hospital’s team but with our office team as well.

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25 They know the bottom line is patient care. Everything they do and say is an example of excellence in patient care.