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Was I fired or did I quit? Do I have to report it to the BON?

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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Termination or Resignation?

Please advise how I should handle the “termination” versus “resignation.

Was I fired or did I quit? Do I have to report it to the BON?

Hi Nurse Beth,

I’m in a huge dilemma. And I think my “lack of guidance” may have really hurt me. I’m an older RN, have extensive experience in my area. Was out of bedside hospital for several years, but stayed as current as possible consulting. I recently was hired by a hospital, with expectations of having a shortened orientation program.

I struggled with the transition to learning the Electronic Medical Records. I had at least three meetings with my manager, who seemed supportive of my situation. I was inconsistent with getting feedings on time. Was called into office one day re: very late feeding, and the care at time, and was told they were very concerned if I could manage when they were “very busy.” I was told to think about it, and let them know what I thought.

I felt I was in jeopardy of further action, but not dismissal. I wrote a detailed email, using the hospital system, stating I would do anything they asked, even go above what was needed to show I could do the job. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of the email, because it is on the hospital system, and my access has been removed). Instead of a response to the email, I got a call from the manager two days later, saying they felt I might be better suited elsewhere. I was blown away. Literally. I’ve been in nursing 17+ plus years, and have never “lost a nursing job.”

The manager did say she would take a letter of resignation. (I didn’t know what to do. I submitted the letter and my hospital ID one week later). I hadn’t checked my email that whole week. I checked later, and found an email that said “Termination of Benefits,” and it had an attachment. I had tried two days after the manager’s call to login to one of my accounts to get my last pay stub, (everything is electronic), and the screen had a pop-up in red that said, “terminated.” Not resigned. This can have huge implications for me, because I am required to report to the board, any terminations. ... Granted I turned in the “Resignation letter” one week after the phone call, (I was trying to collect my thoughts and figure out what to do), but does this mean the Human Resources is ignoring my letter? It has been dismissed? Do I have any recourse? I don’t want this to be ”termination.” It can cause me many problems going forward.

Our Human Resources is closed for COVID, ( all working remotely), and I haven’t found anyone to which to talk. I need employment. But don’t know what to put as far as my leaving my employment at this hospital. (I was employed 3-1/2 months).

Please advise how I should handle the “termination” versus “resignation.”
And what is a good way to explain my leaving this job.

Thanks for any insight you can give me.

Dear Dilemma,

I'm so sorry for your whole experience. It's devastating to lose a job, and you have a lot of additional worry around it.

First of all, I really do not think you are in any trouble with the board.

A couple of things stand out. Your manager should have called you in for a face-to-face meeting rather than a telephone conversation that left you in limbo. And waiting a week to submit your resignation on your part was not ideal, either.

Your discharge status is really not clear. Were you fired or did you quit? You saw the word "terminated" on your payroll software program, but for all we know, that is the only term used in that system to differentiate an active employee from a non-employee. Terminated in that case may just mean no longer here, as opposed to being fired or resigning. You can't go by that alone.

You must talk to someone in HR. Yes, their physical doors are closed, but they have to answer your question. What precisely is your discharge status? Terminated or Resigned? This is a very important question for a lot of reasons-unemployment, BON, future employment, and you are owed an answer.

Reporting to BON or BRN

However, whether you were fired or whether submitted your resignation in lieu of being fired may not make a difference to the BON. They would look at either one or both, as being fired, as the employer initiated the separation.

As far as reporting to the BON, it would be helpful to know what state you are in, as the reporting requirements vary greatly.

For example, in Missouri, an employer must report to the BON any disciplinary action or the voluntary resignation of a nurse against whom any complaints or reports have been made which might have led to disciplinary action.

The Missouri BON reviews every report and determines if there is probable cause to open an investigation. It's hard to imagine that the BON would decide to open an investigation on a Registered Nurse of 17 years because a feeding was late and your computer skills were lacking.

In Texas, if an employer terminates a nurse for practice related errors, it must be reported. Similarly, they then decide if an investigation is warranted.

In California, terminations are not reported, but diversion, negligence, abuse, and so forth are.

Whether you were fired or whether you submitted your resignation in lieu of being fired would make a difference to employers when applying to future jobs. In either case, you would have to explain a short tenure, but it would be preferable not to have to say you were terminated.

Disclosing to Employers

When submitting a job application, be honest but don't reveal what is not asked. If asked if you have any restrictions on your license- the answer is No. You do not.

If asked if you've ever been terminated (not all applications ask this) then you have to be honest and say Yes (once you find out your official discharge status). Or say No if you find out your status is Resigned. Most large employers only divulge job title and dates of employment when called for a reference, but you never want to falsify an application.

Either way, in an interview, your short tenure will come up. Be prepared. Be positive and smile. Employers want to hire positive people who will fit in and get along. Portray your former employer in as positive light as possible. "It wasn't a good fit". Frame it as a mutual understanding if possible.

Remember that many, many people have been terminated and go on to perfectly enjoyable and rewarding jobs.

What you need to do is find out your official discharge status. You can also contact an attorney who specializes in nursing/BON issues. He or she would then contact the BON and ask for the status of the complaint.

Best wishes to you,

Nurse Beth

Hi! Nice to meet you! I love helping new nurses in all my various roles. I work in a hospital in Staff Development, and am a blogger and author.

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11 Comment(s)

I would give yourself the benefit of the doubt during the period of uncertainty, after all, she gave you the option. State on applications resigned. If this boils over later, then deal with it. Give yourself the chance to get a job with resigned as the reason instead of dooming yourself. Make certain you have a copy of the letter of resignation and use the date of that letter as your date of resignation.

TriciaJ, RN

Specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory. Has 40 years experience.

I agree with caliotter. They allowed you to submit a letter of resignation so they wouldn't have to fire you. I'm pretty sure "terminated" is a generic term that just means you don't work there anymore.

I'm always leery of saying (in an interview) that "it wasn't a good fit". What if they ask for more information? I think I'd be ready with something. Maybe along the lines of "As a seasoned nurse I accepted an abbreviated orientation. However, I hadn't banked on their EMR system. I know now to request a complete orientation so that I can be up and running when I need to be."

Good luck!

PJG RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 35 years experience.

Hi Beth.

It's PJG RN again ...

Just some updates. ... I live in New York. My former hospital is unionized. Unfortunately, the Rep could not intervene because I needed to be off probation, (which I had 2 more weeks). I did speak to the Union Rep, and she and my husband suggested the letter to the Mgr, stating I would sit down and work on a plan with the Mgr to correct the issue(s). That is the letter I sent my Mgr. Unfortunately, I got no response. Instead, I got the call two days later, saying I was no longer working for the hospital. I spoke to the Rep again, and she made me aware, that in New York, when it's time to renew one's license, the Board has a question where they asked if one has ever been "terminated" from employment. She said it can really cause some nasty repercussions, and difficulty with employment going forward. ... This is one major reason I am so concerned. Repercussions now, and in the future, when I have to renew my license. ....

To: caliotter3 & TriciaJ, RN: ... Thank you for your feedback about what to put on current applications I want to submit. I think that sounds like a great idea, and I will do that for now.

Another Update: I finally heard from someone in Human Resources. This is the response I received:

"Hi xxxx – We did receive your resignation; however, it was highly unusual in that it was received after you had already been terminated. <sic> (I dated it the day of my Mgr's phone call, but they got it 1 week later) <sic> You were not successful during your probationary period which is why you were termed. Our policy when requested for a reference is to affirm the title and dates of employment." ...

So, they got my resignation letter. As I said above, I dated it the day I got the call from my Mgr.... But I get the feeling HR didn't do anything with my letter, other than let me know in the above communication they received it. (No one from HR had previously acknowledged it to me, even though they had it).

I have emailed HR back, asking, does my record show, "resigned" as my reason for leaving, and if it doesn't , to whom do I need to speak.

I have been looking up Nurse Attorneys in my area too. If HR refuses to change the status, (if it shows "terminated"), I am in a bad bind. Without employment, I can't afford counsel. Any other suggestions for dealing with HR, if they give me a difficult time?

Thanks for any suggestions.

Continue to apply with "resigned" as your reason. HR said to you that they will give dates.....they will most likely refrain from saying you were fired, or resigned. Take advantage of the ambiguity for now. Once you are employed you may want to drop the matter. At least, try to get one consultation with an attorney; initial consultations are often free, and you may get the info to set your mind at ease, or to tell you to start saving up for a retainer. But if you obtain that job, why bother at that point? Give this a chance to submerge in the swamp of time. Good luck.

calmone6165

Has 1 years experience.

2 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

Continue to apply with "resigned" as your reason. HR said to you that they will give dates.....they will most likely refrain from saying you were fired, or resigned. Take advantage of the ambiguity for now. Once you are employed you may want to drop the matter. At least, try to get one consultation with an attorney; initial consultations are often free, and you may get the info to set your mind at ease, or to tell you to start saving up for a retainer. But if you obtain that job, why bother at that point? Give this a chance to submerge in the swamp of time. Good luck.

100% THIS!

londonflo

Specializes in oncology. Has 44 years experience.

On 5/16/2020 at 9:29 PM, Nurse Beth said:

Please advise how I should handle the “termination” versus “resignation.”
And what is a good way to explain my leaving this job.

You are probably eligible for unemployment insurance, and now is a good time to be eligible due to the CARES Act. Sometimes it takes a while to get the payments started but they will start the payments based on the day your legal relationship with the hospital occurred. Even if your relationship was terminated because you quit, you may be eligible. In my state there are questions in the application that ask "did the employer make your continued employment untenable" or similar language.

Just for info, was this hospital initiating lay offs of nurses because of decreased business related to Covid? You may have been low hanging fruit as you were on new hire-probation and there was no need for that pesky severance pay.

Hold your head up high, You are much better off with an employer that treats educational needs with an actual way to meet those. Me thinks there are other forces/factors going on.

greener22, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 34 years experience.

Having been terminated myself I feel your pain and confusion. a few weeks later I met with the CEO of my company about it. He said I could put whatever I wanted in the blank to that question because HR will only give dates of employment. You did submit a letter of resignation so if asked if you have notice, yes you did. Reason for leaving question is up to you. Someone else in this thread recommend to not put “not a good fit” and I agree with that, But be prepared with an answer. I have worked with RNs who walked out mid shift yet were rehired by the same company. You have the right to know your rehire status. They have to tell you if you are eligible for rehire or not. You can omit the job altogether in your resume if it was only for a short time. If later questioned about it, just say you were limiting space on your resume and included pertinent information. (That will work if your next position is not similar to the one your left).
best of luck!!

kp2016

Has 20 years experience.

On 5/21/2020 at 7:38 PM, londonflo said:

Just for info, was this hospital initiating lay offs of nurses because of decreased business related to Covid? You may have been low hanging fruit as you were on new hire-probation and there was no need for that pesky severance pay.

Hold your head up high, You are much better off with an employer that treats educational needs with an actual way to meet those. Me thinks there are other forces/factors going on.

This was exactly what I was thinking. I note your initial post mentioned that they had planned to give you a "shortened orientation". I think they had hopped they had hired a nurse who could be up and running immediately with little effort on their part and were disappointed that you needed a real orientation and support.

I have also worked at a union hospital. I'm not opening the union / non union can of worms but I will say they tended to fire people the day before their orientation period was up as that meant the nurses were not yet protected by the union agreement. I couldn't help but notice that some of the people let go really weren't unsafe or bad nurses they just needed more support or had been hired onto a unit that suddenly had a lower sensus and didn't need so many full time nurses.

If I was you I would hold my head up and start applying for new jobs. Given that your manager told you she would accept you letter of resignation which you submitted I would personally be of the position that you resigned as the unit was not a good fit for you.

Best of luck!

PJG RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 35 years experience.

Caliotter3/calmone6165

Some Additional Updates….

Much relieved after speaking to a Nurse Attorney. She assured me, there would be no problem with renewing my license, as I can check “no” on the one block that asks, “Has any hospital …. terminated …. employment … to avoid imposition of such measures?” She told me it only applies to someone with pending or actual charges of “professional misconduct.” …. Also heard back from HR. They stated same as before, “Highly unusual to get Resignation Letter after being termed.” ... I don’t think they plan to mention I have resignation letter in my file. ☹️.

At londonflo:

I’ve looked into unemployment benefits. Not sure if the company would try and fight me on this. I have not filed because I thought I would have found a job by now. Have not.

I don’t think we had COVID layoffs. We had a lot of shifting around of personnel and a change in designation of floors, (making specific floors COVID floors), but not layoffs. We had a steady stream of COVID patients. But that was a good thought. … Thanks for your encouraging words.

At greener22:

I was on the fence about trying to contact our “new CEO.”… Met and talked to the new CEO during my first week of orientation. He was in the same new hire class as me, and I sat next to him. I think he would remember me. But don’t know if I would cause more angst for myself at this point or not.

About my Rehire status: I don’t know the answer to this! ... Just realizing I need this information. … Recently discovered HR Departments have a “work-around” they use with each other. If a prospective employer were to ask one’s previous employer, “Would you rehire this individual?,” it is okay/legal for the previous employer to answer “No.” And no specific rules have been violated.

About my reason for leaving employment. … On applications I going to say, “Left Employment - Letter of Resignation.” Still not sure what to say in an interview. Also, feeling “squeezed” about what to say re: contacting my previous employer. …. Had an online application that specifically asked could they contact the previous employer. I was stuck on what to say, so I never completed the application. (Figured I was in a 'no-win' situation here).

…. Frustrated with the ATS (Application Tracking Systems). This approach to hiring is new to me. I’m used to hand delivering, (or emailing), my RESUME to HR. This way, I usually get some type of 'human' response. … The RESUME I used for my last employment, (which has my photo on it), was reviewed by an Exec at a very large company before I hand-delivered it to the hospital HR Dept. I had a phone call from HR within one week for an interview. (Yes. I’ve seen many posts in ‘all nurses,’ that say it is not advisable have a photo on a RESUME. I will be removing it from my future RESUME submissions.). … I’m also in the process of changing the layout of my RESUME, as I have recently discovered, “ATS” read certain layouts much easier, and that is not how my RESUME is laid out. …

This has been an incredible experience. I’m learning a lot. Just hoping I get picked up soon for employment.

I need to be back work. Need money to pay our bills.

PJG RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 35 years experience.

at kp2016...

You are very insightful. ... I think my employer was expecting a "quick turn around" on my orientation. When that didn't happen, they were not as enthusiastic. ... To avoid any messy issues, (ie; union getting involved), they let me go "before my probation was up."

I'm now trying to get past all of this. ...