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Anne writes:

A friend once said that if you throw enough putty at the wall, something’s bound to stick!  Well, here’s some unedited putty.

I’d been practicing nursing for 20+ years when I was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia and there was a nasty bout with previously well-controlled epilepsy. I needed to stop working, stop practicing my chosen profession of nursing.

I began freelance writing to occupy my time and found instant success and satisfaction; hey, I had my own byline and received pay, (albeit poor), for articles! This was life affirming, and at the same time invalidated feelings of low self-esteem because I was no longer able to work in nursing.

Several years later, a new clinical editor was unable to increase my compensation for a column that I was editing, so she called to offer me a place on the magazine’s masthead instead. However, before doing that, she needed to do a routine background check and call me back.

I’ll never forget that telephone call. “Were you aware that your license is no longer active?” I hemmed and hawed a bit, then then realized the unpleasant truth. I had moved from one state to another and planned to apply for reciprocity in my new state – but forgot.

I felt naked and numb all at the same time. This license was part of my identity!  As a result of my forgetfulness to renew my license, I was stripped of a title (RN) although no one could take away my degree (BSN).

In spite of the fact that I believe once you’re a nurse you’re always a nurse, I’m no longer registered and I can’t say that I belong to that larger collective of Registered Nurses. I’m not like ‘one of you’ anymore. I never thought that losing a license could make me feel so small and so humble and insignificant.

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As a working RN with well-controlled epilepsy -at the moment- I feel for you, I live with the knowledge that one day that may change, and I will no longer be able to be an RN! I wish I had writing skills to fall back on. I too,I guess would want to keep my license current, even if I couldn’t use it.
Maybe I should start looking into a 2nd profession,but this is all I know,

As a nurse with a mental illness, I worry all the time about the time when I will finally have to use my long-term disability and stop working. My recent hospitalization scared the hell out of me–so much of my identity is tied up in being a nurse. I truly feel for you, and wish I had something more profound to say…

I believe in none of the above. Once a nurse, always a nurse.
And I’m sure there has to be someone you can contact or connect to some channels of information that could assist you with reinstating your RN.
Best of luck my fellow nurse.

I chose to renew mine as inactive and it was a really hard decision to make even though I knew I was leaving the profession. And still every year when I get my new license in a different color, it feels weird. I still think of myself as an RN, just not a practicing one. Maybe I’ll say I took early retirement from nursing. :)

I’m sorry you were unable to renew your license. I have maintained my RN license in the state which I was first licensed.
I was wondering if you would consider exchanging links? Thanks

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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