Get legally healthy in 2017

Nurses always focus on patients, their families and their communities while forgetting what they need to do to stay healthy. 2017 has been declared the Year of the Health Nurse by the American Nurses Association. On its website, the ANA defines a healthy nurse as “someone who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional well-being.”

This is also a good year to become legally healthy. Here are my tips for doing so.

1) Join a professional association to keep up with current issues and ways to enhance your practice and your profession.

2) Keep current in your area of nursing specialty by reading nursing journals and attending conferences, continuing education programs and inservices your employer offers.

3) Consider obtaining an advanced degree or certification in your area of nursing practice.

4) If you do not have your own professional liability insurance policy, consider the benefits, two of which include an attorney who represents you if you are named in a professional negligence suit and coverage for professional licensure defense should allegations of a violation of your nurse practice act arise.

5) Adhere to standards of practice in your area of nursing specialty.

6) Never undertake a patient care responsibility for which you are not competent to do.

7) Document your nursing care completely, honestly, accurately and in a timely manner.

8) Never engage in bullying with staff or with patients.

9) Delegate patient care consistent with professional association guidelines and your nurse practice act.

10) Never practice outside your scope of practice as defined in your nurse practice act and its rules.

11) Attend a board of nursing meeting in your state and consider applying for a board position when one becomes available.

12) Participate in the legislative process to ensure your nursing practice is not compromised by amendments or additions to your nurse practice act that are unwelcome. Become active on the national level to ensure that healthcare generally, and nursing specifically, are not compromised by amendments, repeals or unwanted additions to federal law.

It is important to keep yourself healthy in all spheres of your life, as ANA has identified. It also is important to make sure you are legally healthy this year and for the years to come.

What suggestions do you have for yourself and your colleagues to do so? Post them in the comments section below.

Nancy Brent’s posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state.  Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

For information on properly documenting your care of patients, click here.


About the author
Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN 

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN,'s legal information columnist, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. To ask Nancy a question, email

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