The NCLEX stands for National Council Licensure Examination. After a nursing student completes their nursing degree, that student must sit either the NCLEX-RN or the NCLEX-LPN in order to obtain their license—a necessary step on the path towards legal nursing practice in the United States.
Through the NCLEX examinations, states and jurisdictions have an easy way to gauge competency in nursing candidates. Governing bodies do this to make sure that every nursing candidate who goes on to practice will be in a good position to provide safe, helpful, and knowledgeable care to patients for the duration of their career.
The nursing profession, along with other professions in the medical field, requires much of its practitioners. Nurses have to demonstrate good bedside manners, absolute trustworthiness to their patients and colleagues, and a wide, strong knowledge of theoretical and clinical scientific topics. The examination serves as an opportunity for nursing students to prove that they have the knowledge their future careers require. The NCLEX governing committees may also look into the past disciplinary records of candidates in order to get an idea of each candidate's behavioral fitness. If the committee sees evidence of misconduct in an applicant's file, they might seriously consider whether that applicant should even sit the NCLEX examination.
If you're a nursing student and you have records of misconduct in your past or are facing current allegations, you might worry about what that misconduct means for your future.
At the Lento Law Firm, we seek to mitigate that worry. You don't need to despair that your nursing career is over before it begins if you're also managing misconduct allegations. However, you do need to be proactive about protecting your future. Hire an experienced student defense attorney today to make sure that you're able to pursue your intended career as a professional nurse.
What is the NCLEX, and Who Has to Take It?
The NCLEX is the national board examination in the field of nursing. Anyone who wishes to work as a nurse in the United States needs to take either the NCLEX-PN, the examination for becoming a licensed practical nurse, or the NCLEX-RN, the examination for becoming a registered nurse.
Most nursing students take the appropriate NCLEX examination between two and eight weeks after graduation. Candidates apply for nursing credentials from their specific state boards of registration and licensure, and use that information (as well as a $200 fee) to register for the appropriate version of the NCLEX.
The NCLEX focuses on four main types of material and subject matter to best assess a future nurse's competency. These areas of focus include:
- The best ways for a nurse to provide an effective, safe care environment for their patients
- The current methods of maintaining and promoting health
- Psychosocial integrity
- Physiological integrity
Once the candidate passes the NCLEX, they can work towards licensure and career establishment.
What are the Expected Ethical Standards Surrounding the NCLEX?
One of the sections of the NCLEX tests the candidate's knowledge of the ethical standards of the nursing profession. These standards reflect the expectations of the American Nurses Association. According to the ANA's Code of Ethics, NCLEX test-takers need to show familiarity with the following ethical considerations:
- The best ways to take timely action in a situation that exhibits both medical and ethical dilemmas
- Best practices for informing colleagues of ethical issues
- Just methods of distributing care
- Doing the right thing for the patient in all cases
- Doing no harm, as stated in the Hippocratic oath
- Accepting accountability for actions completed
- Keeping promises to both colleagues and patients
- Respecting patient autonomy
Clearly, this is simultaneously a high bar of expectations and a rather vague metric by which to measure one's past behavior. However, when the NCLEX governing committees consider the registration information of would-be test-takers, they are looking for evidence that a candidate will succeed both medically and ethically in their nursing practice.
As such, any misconduct in your past - particularly misconduct regarding your clinical rotations - will cause the NCLEX committee to think twice about your ability to sit your boards. Academic or sexual misconduct could also disqualify your candidacy.
If you face allegations of any irregular behavior or misconduct, hope is not lost. You simply need to act now to clear your record before you register for the NCLEX. Teaming up with a smart student defense lawyer is the best possible method of working towards a successful outcome.
Specific Rules for Taking the NCLEX Without Irregular Behavior
The NCBSN, or the group that manages the NCLEX, has provided a list of rules and regulations for taking the NCLEX. While past misconduct may disqualify you from sitting the NCLEX, any irregular behavior that you exhibit while sitting the board itself could lead to cancellation of your results, dismissal from the exam space, or even disciplinary consequences from your program.
The NCBSN notes that any of the following types of behavior could be considered problematic, and would likely result in adverse ramifications:
- Giving or receiving help while taking the NCLEX
- Accessing (or attempting to access) prohibited devices or materials for aid during the NCLEX
- Trying to take the NCLEX for another person (or asking another person to take the exam for you)
- Creating a disturbance during the exam
- Failing to follow the instructions that test administrators give during the exam
- Tampering with the computer on which the exam takes place
If you face accusations for wrongdoing connected to the NCLEX itself, you're going to need assistance ensuring that you don't face outsized consequences.
Nursing Students and Misconduct: What Actions May Conflict with Your NCLEX Candidacy
The specific types of misconduct that your school identifies as problematic (and worth punishment) will depend on your school's specific policies. It's a good idea to check out your school's code of conduct to get a sense of your school's due process.
One nursing program’s code of conduct may give a good idea as to general types of behavior that could merit institutional attention. This program breaks the general types of misconduct into three general categories: Academic misconduct, sexual misconduct, and professional misconduct.
- Academic misconduct may include any behavior or actions that undermine your school's general purpose to educate. Students who cheat, collaborate improperly, plagiarize, misrepresent themselves to gain academic advantages or break any rules set forth by individual instructors may find themselves guilty of academic misconduct.
- Sexual misconduct involves any situation where one student allegedly mistreats, uses, harasses, or otherwise inflicts discomfort or harm on another student with sexual intent (or involving sexual matter). Examples of sexual misconduct might include sexual assault, rape, harassment based on gender, domestic or dating violence, stalking, or any of a number of other types of actions.
- Professional misconduct may involve actions that mentors, colleagues, or staff observe while a student performs clinical rotations. There are many instances of conduct that might qualify for this category, including:
- Exhibiting discriminatory behavior towards patients
- Performing nursing actions that a student has not trained adequately for
- Failing to take responsibility for performed actions
- Disclosing the results of a patient examination improperly
- Delegating nursing tasks to unqualified personnel
- Practicing nursing while undergoing emotional or physical conditions that impair one's ability to practice nursing
- Practicing nursing while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance
- Failing to respect patient privacy or confidentiality
- Failing to practice proper documentation
- Soliciting services or borrowing money from patients
- Using the supplies of the school, hospital, or clinic for personal use
- Abandoning a patient who requires care
- Acting in a way that causes a patient harm
Clearly, there are many different types of misconduct that could constitute a red flag to anyone viewing your record of conduct. A trained and experienced attorney will know what to do in order to position you in the best possible way to suggest your innocence.
If you stand accused of any type of misconduct, it's important to know how your school will investigate and adjudicate your alleged actions. Your school's methods of due process will feature in your school's code of conduct. Going through this document will prepare you for what's to come - and it may suggest a way to hold your school accountable to your rights so you have the fairest chance possible to fight for a successful outcome.
Managing Your School's Misconduct Process: Holding Your School Accountable to Its Own Policies
Nursing programs and schools have reputations to protect just as much as individual nursing students do. Unfortunately, in practice, this might mean that your school will rush through your disciplinary process or provide sloppy adjudication in order to keep your misconduct quiet or disassociate themselves from the process.
As a result, your school might steamroll over the rights you have as an accused student. This can't happen. Your entire future is at stake - so it is paramount that you have a fair adjudicative process.
Here's what you might be able to expect as your school works to figure out who is to blame during a misconduct investigation:
- A letter of notification from your school
- An invitation to a meeting with a representative from your school or a more formal hearing in front of a panel of representatives
- An investigation into your alleged misconduct, which might include conversations with your peers and analysis of your past conduct
- A chance for you to tell your side of the story
- A decision from your school regarding your involvement in your alleged misconduct
- A recommendation for disciplinary measures from your school
If you disagree with your school's decision regarding disciplinary measures or if you believe that your school has not afforded you your rights during the adjudicative process, you will likely have the chance to appeal. Consult with your advisor before doing so, as you will likely only have one opportunity to appeal. Additionally, most schools only recommend that you appeal if you can demonstrate that the school did not follow due process or if any new material information comes to light regarding the initial allegations.
While you're preparing to defend yourself against your allegations, there are several steps that you can take to present yourself in the best possible light. These include:
- Keeping silent. Do not confide in anyone regarding the details of your misconduct.
- Putting together a comprehensive informational file regarding your misconduct. If possible, construct a detailed timeline, and provide any relevant information you can find. This will be invaluable for your attorney as they work to determine your best course of action.
- Reading up on your school's policies. If you're familiar with what your school should do during your disciplinary process, you'll be better able to point it out if they veer from documented methods.
- Finding and hiring a skilled, capable student defense attorney. While you might feel like you can handle this alone, remember that your professional future as a nurse is at stake. It's better to work with an experienced attorney to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
If you're worried about your ability to take the NCLEX due to past missteps or misconduct, take comfort in decisive action. Work with a professional student defense attorney to get the assistance you need.
Joseph D. Lento: A Student Defense Attorney Ready to Help
As a nursing student, you're accustomed to hard work. You've been putting in your time for years. Through didactic coursework and clinical rotations, you've demonstrated your skills. You've put your life on hold in the service of others (and your future). You've invested heavily to make sure that you can help others with your professional career.
If, with all of that at stake, you find that you stand accused of misconduct, you might be scared and confused. What's going to happen next? Is everything going to fall apart? Is there any way you can clean up your reputation to make sure that you can still enter the medical profession of your choice?
As it turns out—yes. However, you have to start now.
One of the final hurdles between you and your nursing career might be the NCLEX. However, even this exam might not be the most difficult thing you face. If you have misconduct on your record, you might not even be able to take this exam. That's why it's vital to deal with misconduct in the moment, as it's happening, before it can come back to make your life difficult in the future.
If you have past misconduct on your record, the time to deal with it is also now—before the NCLEX is upon you. Reach out to Joseph D. Lento, an empathetic and experienced student defense attorney. He has years of experience working as hard as you do for students across the nation. He has successfully helped hundreds of students fight towards a favorable outcome—and the future of their choice.
Joseph D. Lento can do the same for you. If you're in need of a strategic defense and a knowledgeable guide through your school's disciplinary process, you're in the best possible place. Call Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today for more information about how we can help you. Call us today at 888-535-3686.