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February 8, 2024

Are Nursing Students Mandated Reporters?

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A group of nurses and nursing students in a meeting.

What drove you to enroll in that first course in your nursing program? Like many, you may have been fueled by a desire to help your community and future patients. Many states expand that duty and commitment to safety and health by requiring nurses, like other medical professionals, to report suspected abuse and neglect. You may already know that you will likely become a mandated reporter once you graduate and begin working as a nurse, but are you required to report as a nursing student? At what point in your career do you need to start worrying about mandated reporter training? Learn more about what requirements may apply to you as a nursing student.

Am I A Mandated Reporter As A Nursing Student?

Most states classify nurses as mandated reporters. If you’re still in school studying for your career as a nurse, you may not be a mandated reporter yet – but you will be soon. For example, in California, you will be a mandated reporter once you become a licensed nurse, but until you’re licensed, you may not be required to report.

That said, if you’re one of the roughly 25% of nursing students who are working in another position while you earn your degree, you may be a mandated reporter already. Several job titles and positions popular with nursing students may be named mandated reporters.

For example, you may be required to report suspected child abuse:

  • If you’re working as an intern in your field, you may be required to report in your state. This can apply to interns in states like Connecticut, Illinois, and New Hampshire.
  • If you’re a nursing student doing a residency, you may be required to report suspected abuse or neglect in states such as Louisiana, Oregon, and New York.
  • Finally, some states require everyone to report suspected abuse and neglect. These include Indiana, New Jersey, and Wyoming.

It’s important to note that the list of professions and states above is not exhaustive; understanding the requirements in your state and for your profession is the best way to ensure you’re able to fulfill your duty.

How Can I Prepare To Be A Mandated Reporter?

Whether you’re a mandated reporter or preparing to become one in your career as a nurse, it’s essential to understand the duties and responsibilities that come with that role.

Understand What Types of Abuse You’re Required to Report

Because nurses work with a wide variety of vulnerable populations, they’re in a unique position to recognize signs of abuse or neglect and offer support to victims by making a report. Because of this position, you may be required to report multiple types of abuse affecting multiple populations. This can include child abuse, elder or dependent adult abuse, and intimate partner violence. Additionally, the abuse you encounter could be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. It’s vital to be able to recognize all four types.

Brush Up On Laws In Your State

The best way to understand which requirements apply to you is to familiarize yourself with mandated reporting laws in your state. Diving into state-specific requirements can help you uncover the specific regulations you will need to navigate and what resources your state offers to reporters, such as training.

Take Mandated Reporter Training

Mandated reporter training for your state or organization will offer information on how to recognize potential abuse or neglect, how to make a report, and other crucial knowledge. Finding the proper training is a great first step toward understanding your duty and earning your certification as a reporter.

As an added bonus, if you’re a California nurse, taking mandated reporter training can also count towards your required continuing education hours.

What Do I Do If I Suspect Abuse As a Nursing Student?

If you suspect abuse or neglect, knowing how to report it so that victims can receive the appropriate resources is absolutely vital. Even if you’re not yet working in a professional or volunteer role that makes you a mandated reporter, you can still share your concerns as a permissive reporter. While mandated reporters are required to report by law in their state, permissive reporters are individuals who choose to report voluntarily.

Whether you’re functioning as a mandated or permissive reporter, your state will have specific guidelines to use when reporting suspected abuse or neglect. The best way to ensure you understand this process is to take the appropriate mandated reporter training and review relevant laws and regulations. Investing this time in learning about reporting now can help you feel confident that you’ll know what to do if a situation arises where you suspect abuse or neglect.

Depending on where you live, you may be required to report your suspicions verbally and in writing to the relevant authorities within a specific window of time. For example, in some states, mandated reporters must report their suspicions immediately, followed shortly after by a written report.

As a nurse, your passion and dedication to keeping your patients safe and healthy can help safeguard their well-being. Knowing how and when to report abuse is key to fulfilling your calling to keep patients safe. Familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements and sign up for mandated reporter training. Get started by finding your state here.

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