Nursing Talk

Dear Cassandra,

The Client Service Coordinator told me I cannot work because my CPR card has expired. The local hospital won’t be offering a class for a month. The fire department just had a class, but I missed it. I know how to do CPR. What’s the big deal? The same thing happened when my license needed to be renewed. I knew that my license was going to expire, but I bought a pair of $500 shoes. Then I didn’t have the money to renew the license. American Home Health wouldn’t let me work until I had a current nursing license.

Frustrated in Chicago


Dear Frustrated,

As they say, you are up a creek without a paddle. You are in an awkward position with no easy way out. You cannot work without a valid license and CPR card.

Would you let your driver’s license expire and continue to drive? What would happen if you got stopped? One night you and a friend go to Pizza Hut for the large Supreme pan pizza for $10.00. You are feeling great because the pizza was wonderful and the price was awesome. As you drive along the highway, you are pulled over by a police officer, who noticed your tail light was burned out. He asks for your driver’s license.Yikes! Now you have a ticket and have to go to traffic court. You miss a day of work and lose a day’s pay and, of course, you have to pay to renew your license.

What if you had been in a serious accident, and your passenger was killed? Say the accident was your fault. The liability would be tremendous. You had no valid license. Will your insurance company be happy to have you as a customer? Will they renew your insurance at the same premium? Not a chance. Soon you’ll be spending your free time calling Geico, Travelers, American Family Insurance, State Farm, and every cut rate insurance company in the phone book.

Having a valid nursing license is required by the Nurse Practice Act. The State of Illinois Department of Specialized Care for Children, one of our funders, requires that the personnel file of each nurse contains a copy of the nursing license, the on-line verification of the license at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Website, and copies of the front and back of the CPR card. The back must be signed by the nurse. The State of Illinois will not accept on-line CPR classes.

Think of the financial liability the agency would face if a child died under questionable circumstances, and the nurse had no valid license or had no valid CPR card. The parents would sue. The failure to be properly certified would feature prominently in a trial. The bad publicity and financial loss could destroy the whole company. You would be out of a job, and over two hundred other nurses would need to find another employer.

By the way, why did you need a pair of shoes that cost $500? I don’t know anyone who has shoes like that. Once I heard an exotic dancer say that she had spent $500 for a pair of shoes to wear to work. She was a poor, misguided soul. You can be sure that not one of the patrons of that establishment was looking at her shoes.


Note: First published on American Home Health's news, September 2010.