Getting licensed as a nurse is not easy. However, this hassle doesn’t stop after license acquisition, as you should protect your license even while at work. Nurses should defend their licenses against complaints raised to their respective state’s Board of Nursing. Interestingly, BON complaints shouldn’t necessarily stem from poor patient care. Complaints can also arise due to several violations, such as misdemeanors and convictions, such as driving under the influence and using illicit drugs.

Such actions have far-reaching negative consequences, not only on nurses but also on those who depend on them for care. Nurses should consider the following tips to reduce the likelihood of complaints.

General recommendations

Nurses should take several general steps within and without their work environments to protect their licenses. General tips include:

  • Following the laid down protocols and procedures
  • Providing clear and detailed communication to your patients and their family members
  • Seeking proactive support if you are experiencing stress to reduce chances of substance abuse and unprofessional conduct
  • Completing all the necessary continuing education
  • Maintaining documents and ensuring that you access updated medication reference materials

Improve your communication

You should communicate and pass any information clearly to others. Communication breakdown between nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers can lead to serious medical errors and poor patient outcomes. You should ensure that your colleagues and patients understand whatever you are conveying clearly. Proper communication helps in many other ways, including:

  • Patients and families who develop personal connections with nurses are less likely to file complaints
  • Listening and acting with empathy prevents you and your patient from losing your temper
  • Good communication helps in resolving conflicts

Keep your social profiles private

Social media platforms are great for making social connections. However, nurses should use them with caution. While you are free to have social media accounts, remember that anything you share online can come back directly to you and your profession. Your comments on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter may worsen a pending investigation, even if they are unrelated. Therefore, you should;

  • Maintain utmost privacy and confidentiality
  • Don’t share patient photos, videos, or identities
  • Don’t discuss drug and substance use
  • Don’t refer to your patients using mean terms, even if they are not identified

It is best to restrict your social media activity to friends and family. You should also mind your posts. If you are uncertain how your colleagues or supervisors will interpret a comment, picture, video, or tweet, don’t share it.

Follow facility protocol

You shouldn’t hesitate to decline if you are asked to work on a task that goes out of the facility’s laid down protocols and policies. Ensure that all your actions are in accordance with the law, professional ethical standards, and specific facility guidelines. If you aren’t versed with your hospital’s protocols, you should learn them early to avoid potential medical malpractice suits. Remember that ignorance is never an excuse.


Nurses should also document or keep records and avoid relying on their coworkers to protect their licenses. However, complaints are bound to arise due to various circumstances. If your state’s BON notifies you of a complaint, you should contact a nursing license lawyer. Specialized attorneys know how to investigate and defend you from such claims.