Nurses Lose Licenses Due to Loan Defaults: Fair or Unfair?
In October, Tennessee came down hard on nurses and other healthcare professionals who were in default on their student loans - and in violation of a decade-old statute that requires licensed professionals in the state to repay education loans, or face the consequences.
According to a Jan. 18 article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, 42 Tennessee nurses lost their licenses as a result of the newly enforced state regulation, allowing professional licensing boards to penalize those in default of their student loans. Their licenses will be restored once they get on a payment plan, according to the state. In fact, since October, about half of the 42 nurses have begun making payments and have had their licenses restored.
So why did the state even have to get involved?
It's been reported that most of those suspended hadn't made a student loan payment in years but actually had the means to pay. According to Peter Abernathy, staff attorney for the Tennessee Student Assistance Corp., which provides financial assistance for post-secondary education for Tennessee residents, the state spent 18 months notifying hundreds of licensed professionals that they were at risk and trying to work out a loan repayment plan. In one case, Abernathy told the Tennessean, the state tracked down a nursing professor who owed $80,000 and claimed she had "forgotten" about the loan.
Comments on the issue have varied. Some say it shows a lack of honor and integrity on the part of the nurses who didn't pay, while others believe their licenses shouldn't have been suspended given the hard economic times we're facing.
What do you think?