Twenty-one years ago I graduated from a clinical nurse specialist master’s program. I took extra classes and obtained my nurse practitioner license. I am certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a clinical nurse specialist in adult mental health. I worked in the health system for the past 27 years, seven as an NP. My last position as an NP ended because the clinic I worked at closed. The hospital had no compatible position to offer me, so I accepted a position as a staff nurse working the night shift part time. I continued working in this position for the past 12 years. I recently applied for a position as an NP, but my application was rejected because I am not certified as an psychiatric NP. I am not eligible to sit for the exam because I didn’t graduate from an NP program. The university I graduated from is unable to generate a letter allowing me to sit for the exam because they no longer have any graduate level mental health programs. Several nurses I used to work with years ago have the same credentials I have and they continue to work as NPs. The hospital is telling me I would be a new hire and, as of 2010, all new hires are required be credentialed as NPs by the ANCC. I wasn’t aware of this. Do I have any recourse or grounds to fight the hospital to be rehired as an NP?
Nancy Brent replies:
It is unfortunate you were unaware of the changes made for certification and licensure as an NP. Your best option to determine if you can be rehired as an NP would be to contact a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who practices in the area of regulatory law and employment law. However, some general responses can be made here.
Advanced practice licensure has changed over the years. Initially, a masters’ degree and certification by an applicable national certification professional body was required for licensure. There is a movement to require a doctorate for advanced practice nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing member institutions voted to move the entry level of practice necessary for the advanced practice nurse from the master’s degree to the doctorate level by 2015. You can read their position statement: Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing and FAQs on this issue at www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp/faqs.
If your state board of nursing follows this recommendation, you will need to obtain your certification as required by your former employer now and also comply with this new development.
It is unclear how others with your same credentials are still working at the facility, but you will need to discuss this with your attorney.
Your question underscores the importance of keeping up with practice and licensing issues in your area of nursing practice. It is always easier to be proactive about such changes. As you now know, trying to rectify such changes after the fact always is more difficult.