The first time I heard a nurse tell me they had been fired from their last job, left me speechless…
In my experience, getting fired meant you did something really bad, illegal, or potentially lethal. So needless to say, working next to a nurse who declared they were fired from their last job, left me concerned (can I trust them). But what I was about to learn is being fired is not uncommon in the U.S. and in fact it happens! So, what’s a nurse to do?
According to my quick internet search, “at will” agreements mean the employee can be dismissed for any reason and without warning (any profession). But knowing this exists, I have a ton of questions…How does this affect nursing? What does this mean for the credibility of our profession? How do you convince your next employer “why” you were fired had nothing to do with your practice?
“Believe me Mam, it wasn’t me!”
In my experience, the typical reasons for termination include HIPPA/FIPPA violations, working impaired (alcohol/controlled substances), and abusive relationships with patients or colleagues. However, in Canada, nursing associations are first obligated to educate and work with the questionable behaviors to ensure the employee has an opportunity at rehabilitation and reintegration into the work environment.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are many, many good even great employers who do not jump to “at will” dismissals, who value education and positive contributions from their nursing staff; however, knowing “at will” is hanging over an employee, how does that affect the dedication, accountability, responsibility to the employer? How do we ensure we are working towards the right causes?
As a Canadian nurse travelling the United States, it’s not easy to navigate all the rules of employment for each state. Trying to make a living, learn, and make friends is the focus. But after hearing “at will”, I know this nurse will be doing everything I know to not give my employers reason to question my skill, dedication, or responsibility to my patients or their safety!!
Do you have a story about “at will” dismissals? Would love to hear your perspective! Leave me a comment with your story!
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