How to disclose HIPAA violation in nursing school application?
February 24, 2010 10:59 AM   Subscribe

In the early years of HIPAA, I was didn't take it as seriously as I should have and was fired from a clerical position when I looked up a co-worker's date of birth. I was wrong and a total dumb ass for doing it. Now, I would like to know what I should say about it in my nursing school application since clinical hours include hours at the hospital I was fired from.

I may not get into nursing school, but I would like to try. I've been working as a medication aide at a group home for 19 years (worked it concurrently with the hospital clerical job). I don't violate ethics as a rule, and it was a one time violation.

I would like to maximize my chances of getting into nursing school, but I want to be honest about this. Please give me your suggestions on how to handle this. Thank you.
posted by anonymous to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hmm, what about asking for a one-on-one meeting with the director of the program, to explain this in person instead of on paper? You may want to research the specifics of the law on this before having this meeting. One question I have is whether the hospital can let you work there given what happened.

Good luck!
posted by serazin at 11:08 AM on February 24, 2010

just say "In the early years of HIPAA, I was didn't take it as seriously as I should have and was fired from a clerical position when I looked up a co-worker's date of birth. I was wrong and a total dumb ass for doing it."
posted by rebent at 12:22 PM on February 24, 2010

Just stick with the facts. If the application asks if you have ever been fired from a job, explain what happened.

Don't volunteer any more than is asked.

And don't relate this to the timing of the law--or your perceived timing of the law. You would have probably violated your employer's policy by looking up your co-worker's DOB if you had done this a week before HIPAA went into effect. (Most healthcare facilities have always granted access to info on a need-to-know basis.)

Best of luck.
posted by FergieBelle at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2010

Perhaps consider calling the HR department at the hospital from which you were fired to ask them? Seems less daunting than calling the nursing school before the response deadline. They could probably tell you or at least refer you to someone who can (perhaps in the legal department). Unless the school asks for it, I think this may be one of those things you leave out of your interview and application and allow the school to deal with it (slightly before) when it becomes an issue (if it does).

In my experience of being a nursing student, it was the schools responsibility to actually vet the students prior to clinical. They will only find out about the whole deal if you were convicted of a crime involving this infraction when you submit your criminal background check. Most students in hospitals are barely officially recorded while doing their clinicals.
posted by nursegracer at 1:57 PM on February 25, 2010

In my nursing program, we've had to give our social security number (among other pieces of identifying information) to every hospital where we've had clinical rotations, in addition to the results of our state-run criminal background check. I don't know whether they compare those SSNs to previous employment records, but I think it might be worth giving the hospital education department a call now for your own peace of mind. That way, if you get into nursing school you won't have to worry about whether they're going to find out, or care, once you've already made plans to be back in school.

Also, depending on the program, they may have several different hospitals where you can do clinical rotations for each subject. For instance, half of my nursing class is doing their pediatric clinicals at one hospital, and the other half is at a different hospital, simply because the hospitals can't accommodate all of us at once. If one of the hospitals doesn't want you to do work there, the school should be able to switch you to another one if they have this kind of setup and enough advance notice.

Finally, if your application process involves an interview, or even an essay question that seems appropriate to the topic, I think you could spin this into an excellent "mistake that I made and learned from" kind of story. Whether the school appreciates your forthrightness will probably depend on the program you're applying to, but my impression from applying to schools was that they valued people who could reflect on their actions, figure out what to do better next time, and be honest about things that could/should have been done better.
posted by vytae at 5:21 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

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