During a re-accreditation audit, I found out that supposedly my boss said that I was not only the instructor but assistant DON. They were cited for not having a job description in my file for either of the titles. I am the instructor, but I was not hired as assistant DON or assistant to the director of patient services. The structure of this agency is weak, and the director of patient services comes around on a PRN basis.
What are the legalities if they ask me to sign the job description of assistant DON? Would I be liable for any of the problems that may come up, even though I may not be aware of them? Should I sign this? Can I be fired if I don’t?
There are probably more details in this situation that you did not include, so only a general response can be made. However, it is important to note that if an accrediting agency requires an assistant DON or an assistant to the director of patient services in order for the facility/agency to be accredited, then those positions must be filled by real, live, qualified individuals. Saying someone is functioning in that capacity when he or she is not is fraudulent and is misrepresenting the truth to accreditors.
As a nurse licensee, you are obligated to conduct yourself in a professional and ethical manner at all times, guided by the state nurse practice act, its rules, and nursing ethics. Many state nurse practice acts contain as a ground for discipline any unprofessional, illegal or unethical conduct. Moreover, many nurse practice acts also prohibit a licensee allowing an agency or facility to use their name and licensed status to further any aspect of the facility or agency’s business when the nurse licensee is not in fact providing such services.
Whatever problems the agency is facing, it is important that you not place yourself or your license in jeporady. A consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who works with regulatory law and knows nursing practice would be a wise thing to do at this point. The attorney can discuss with you liability issues if you decide to take on the role of the assistant DON, the importance of a job description in that role or any other role you may assume, and other concerns you raise, including your continued employment in this agency.