Top 5 Reasons Nurses Get Fired

Worried Nurse looking at a paper

Are you currently working as a nurse or considering becoming one? Unlike other professions, nurses generally get fired for the same reasons. To help you avoid getting fired, we’ve compiled the top 5 reasons nurses get fired and how to avoid it.  

Too Many Absences 

Absences are a common reason nurses get fired. When you work three days a week, the chances of getting sick on your workday should be decreased. However, as a nurse, especially a new one, your immune system might be put through the wringer. Additionally, those who are not used to working 12-hour shifts (especially in a row) could experience fatigue or adrenal fatigue, causing absences.

Generally, the nursing staff is forgiving when you are genuinely ill as long as it doesn’t happen frequently. However, when it starts to become a pattern and your absences are abused, this is a cause for getting let go. Patients rely on nurses to be there for them; when someone calls in sick, there isn’t always a nurse on-call ready to come in for you. One way to help show you’re truly sorry for the inconvenience is to find a nurse who is willing to trade shifts for you.

First, you’ll want to make sure it is a valid trade, so the hospital isn’t paying for overtime. A good rule of thumb? Don’t call out until you have PTO saved up and make sure you’re calling as far in advance as possible.

Don’t think you can make it but don’t have PTO, and it’s less than 12 hours away? Give your charge nurse a call, and they might be able to work with a Physician to help prescribe you anti-nausea medication or something that might help your symptoms so you can arrive to work on time. 

Habitually Late to Work 

Working a twelve-hour shift can be exhausting, especially when you come home to a family who still needs to be fed, laundry needs to be done, and the house needs to be cleaned. After a stressful day and chores at home, it can be hard to get adequate sleep.

Additionally, many nurses also have to take their kids to school, making it even harder to get up on time and make it to work by their 7 am shift (we all know you can’t arrive at 7 am, it’s more like 6:45). Arriving early is technically arriving on time, so you have time to put your things away, clock in, and make it to the nurses’ station for shift change a little before 7 am.

Arriving late isn’t an option as others rely on you to be on time so they can go home on time. When you arrive late as a nurse, you hold others up and risk patient care. This is a huge factor when it comes to your performance reviews and is one of the most common reasons nurses get fired. 

Failure to Update Licenses and Certifications

This is a huge one, and your boss has no other choice but to let you go if you mess this up. Keeping your licenses and certifications up to date is mandatory. Most hospitals do a great job of reminding you over and over, and they make sure that if you need additional training that you get time off to complete it.

However, if you don’t meet your deadlines, you will be let go either permanently or temporarily. Don’t let this happen to you, save reminders in several places, and take it seriously; it’s not something worth procrastinating on. 

Drug Abuse  

An astounding 20% of nurses struggle with addiction, according to The Journal of Clinical Nursing. For those that have struggled with abuse in the past, nursing can be a tempting role to work in. Many nurses who suffer from addiction do the unthinkable and steal medication from patients in need.

Additionally, nurses are also fired due to stealing medication from patients not from themselves, but to sell. Thankfully new procedures and protocols have been put into place over the years to help decrease the number of nurses that can do the above without getting caught. If you suffer from addiction, it’s essential to seek help immediately. 

Patient Abuse 

It’s hard to imagine a nurse being physically or emotionally abusive to their patients, but it happens more than one would like to think. Nurses are commonly in stressful situations, under high pressure, or have to handle combative patients, however, under no circumstances should a nurse ever belittle, raise their voice, or act aggressively towards a patient or other co-worker. Such behavior is cause for immediate and permanent dismissal from the premises. 

If you’re currently working as a nurse, or you’re considering entering the field of nursing, it’s essential to refrain from the above as well as unprofessional social media posts and HIPAA violations. Did you recently experience getting fired either yourself or a co-worker? Let us know in the comments below. 

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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