Nurse Impostor Duped 5 SNF Facilities; Could This Happen to You?

October 25, 2017 Jennifer Compagni

Earlier this month, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reported that a woman in Texas lied about her credentials, posing at a nurse at five different skilled nursing facilities. The article was not a major headline, but it raises a major issue: How can LTC facilities prevent the same thing from happening to them?

It was quite a scheme she had going. Every time an employer discovered that she wasn’t a nurse, she left the facility and promptly sought employment in another city. Eventually, the truth caught up to her. The Texas Board of Nursing discovered that she had used the name and nursing license number of a registered nurse with a name similar to hers.

While you may not experience fraud at the level described here, candidate misrepresentation is still a problem for recruiters. The HireRight 2017 Employment Screening Benchmark Report found the following:

  • 85% of survey respondents uncovered a lie or misrepresentation on a candidate’s resume or job application during the screening process — up from 66% five years ago.
  • 77% said screening uncovered an issue with a candidate’s background that would not have been caught otherwise.
  • Yet, only 49% of respondents verify candidates’ education credentials today.

Following are several hiring best practices that can help your organization avoid being the victim of a scam like the one in Texas — and avoid putting your patients at risk of inadequate care:

  • Background checks are the most common first line of offense. Whether you do them yourself or hire a third-party, you can verify and validate someone’s credentials for these all-important jobs. In the HR industry, background checks and their usage are the subject of ongoing discussion and legislation. So, you must be diligent. However, verifying nursing credentials and education should be more than worth the cost.
     
  • Complementing your background check process with your onboarding process and completing both the required I-9 process along with the E-Verify process is a second layer to ensure someone’s identity. The I-9 process requires visual inspection of documentation verifying someone’s work authorization. The E-Verify process is a free, and in some states required, process that takes the I-9 to another level of scrutiny in comparing documents to those on file with the Department of Homeland Security, and often requires a photo match on documents and also enables you to compare these ID photos with the candidate you see in front of you!
     
  • All these processes require submission of documentation, much of which has expiration dates. All documents should be kept on file, including copies of required certifications.

Automated recruiting and HR/Onboarding software can assist you in verifying candidate identities and certifications. In addition, these systems can store and remind you when important certifications are set to expire and require action on the part of the employee to stay up to date. You must be vigilant with your existing staff when it comes to certifications. Professional certifications expire or require continuing education to remain in effect. You must stay on top of this to remain compliant with government regulations.

Long-term care facilities take many precautions to ensure that their residents are safe — such as security systems, cameras, bed safety rails, efforts to prevent falls. This incident, however, underscores the importance of hiring qualified, credentialed staff. Without it, all other safety precautions may not matter.

The SmartLinx Applicant Tracker system and HR module can help you with the candidate identity and credential verification processes. Our products enable creation and storage of the I-9 documentation. They are integrated with the government’s E-Verify process/site, and are directly integrated with a background check provider as well. Our Attest software helps you monitor and track employees required continuing education. And, coming soon, our time clocks will notify employees whose certifications are about to expire. Using all these tools together can enable your hiring specialists to feel confident about hiring the right people to be part of your team and provide the high level of service you are committed to providing to your clients every day.

About the Author

Jennifer Compagni

Jennifer Compagni is a global HR executive with extensive experience in corporate businesses, research, government, and educational institutions. Prior to joining SmartLinx, Jennifer ran her own organizational consulting practice, serving a diverse range of clients including Cardinal Health, Alpharma Inc. and The National Research Council of the National Academies. She holds a Master of Industrial & Labor Relations from Cornell University and a B.A. in Economics from Siena College.

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