Disciplined for unprofessional conduct as an LPN-can I still be an RN?

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I have been an LPN for 16 years. 2023 my license was placed on probation in Tennessee for unprofessional conduct. I was actively pursuing my BSN to hopefully eventually move up to MSN. I have stopped since the probation started my question is will the board of nursing license me as an RN after being on probation, given that I complete all requirements of the probation etc? I am afraid to continue then get to the end and then deny my license.

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

I am not a legal expert, but I suggest consulting with the Tennessee Board of Nursing or an attorney.

In many cases, completing the probationary period can be a positive factor when applying for a new license or transitioning to a higher level of licensure (such as from LPN to RN). However, the specific policies and procedures regarding licensure after probation vary by state and individual case.

Your ability to obtain an RN license in Tennessee heavily depends on several factors, including the specifics of your probation, the nature of the unprofessional conduct, and your compliance with the Tennessee Board of Nursing's requirements.

 I can tell you there are no guarantees. While nursing schools may accept you, and you may pass the NCLEX, the Tennessee Board of Nursing ultimately has to grant licensure.

And the Board will not tell you ahead of time.

Understand that their job is to protect the public and not to protect nurses. At the same time, the Board comprises people like you and me who understand people make mistakes and respond to transparency and remorse. 

They want to see that you did everything required of you, that you understand what led to your poor choices, and that you are rehabilitated and remorseful for your actions.

Here are some suggestions to give you the best chance possible:

  • At some point, you may be asked to provide a letter of explanation to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Take this very seriously. I hope you'll read How to Write a Letter of Explanation to the Board to guide you.
  • Please carefully review the terms and conditions of your probation with the Tennessee Board of Nursing and understand the specific requirements and timelines.
  • Ensure you fulfill all the requirements outlined in your probationary terms, including any education, training, or other stipulations. 
  • Consider legal advice. Find one from The American Association of Nurse Attorneys because it's essential that your attorney specializes in nursing licensure matters for the most accurate guidance. They can provide advice based on your specific situation.
  • It is important to maintain open communication with the Board of Nursing. Provide any necessary documentation promptly. If you have any questions or concerns about the process, do not hesitate to seek clarification.
  • Keep track of all correspondence and documents related to your case. Finally, reply promptly to any communication from the Board to avoid delays in the process.
  • If you change your address or any other contact information, notify the Board immediately.

Obtain letters of reference that showcase your rehabilitation, character, integrity, transformation, and professionalism.

Letters from a supervisor or administrator are highly beneficial. Letters should include specific examples detailing the positive changes they have witnessed in you, such as:

  • Active participation in relevant programs and the duration of your involvement.
  • Excellent attendance and punctuality
  • Motivation to learn and advance in your career.
  • Positive interpersonal relations within your professional environment 
  • Your involvement in any counseling or rehabilitation programs
  • Positive changes in your personal life that reflect improved judgment and behavior
  • Community service or volunteer work, if applicable, to demonstrate your commitment to serving others and giving back to the community 

Remember, each case is unique, and outcomes can vary based on the nursing board's specific circumstances and decisions.

Best wishes and good luck,

Nurse Beth

Additional Reading

Disciplinary action report November 2021 for examples of discipline

Rules of Tennessee Board of Nursing

Licensure: Criminal History allnurses forum (I understand you do not have a criminal record, but there are some entries from Tennessee nurses you may want to read).