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The KSTAR Program for Texas Nurses

An alternative to a probationary period, conditions, and stipulations in a Texas Board of Nursing disciplinary order

The KSTAR Program for Texas Nurses

Nurses who receive disciplinary action for violations, especially those that center on violations dealing with practice issues that may underscore a deficiency in knowledge by the nurse, typically receive a probationary period in a disciplinary order (i.e., Agreed Order) with conditions and stipulations imposed by the Texas Board of Nursing. These conditions and stipulations are required to be performed as part of an entered disciplinary order. 

This gives the Board the ability to address deficiencies in the nurse’s practice due to the violations while continuing to monitor the nurse. Oftentimes, compliance with a disciplinary order and its terms is an onerous undertaking by the nurse as a practical concern. Another real concern for the nurse involves a nurse’s employer not wanting to employ a nurse with a disciplinary order with these conditions and stipulations leading to loss of employment or inability to find employment.

As an alternative to these practice conditions and stipulations, the Texas Board of Nursing, at its discretion, may also implement a remediation program known as the Knowledge, Skills, Training, Assessment and Research or KSTAR. If authorized, the KSTAR program is entered as part of the requirements in a disciplinary order rather than the probationary period and the proposed conditions and stipulations it is replacing. 

What is KSTAR?

KSTAR is a program for nurses to address the remediation of nurses by the Board. The program is part of the A&M Rural and Community Health Institute and Texas A&M University College of Nursing. 

KSTAR is an individualized program that utilizes an individualized assessment of the nurse with practice breakdowns. It is a personalized remedial education plan aimed at correcting any knowledge deficits that may exist.  An initial assessment is conducted upon enrollment in KSTAR. A plan or program is then created by KSTAR for the nurse. Monitoring and follow-up are built into the program and conducted by KSTAR.  In sum, KSTAR is designed to perform individualized competency assessment and provide targeted remediation to ensure nurse competency and make recommendations back to the Board (and not the nurse’s employer) on whether the necessary benchmarks are met for remediation. 

How Does a Nurse Qualify for KSTAR?

To qualify for this program, nurses must meet certain eligibility requirements that are found under Board rule 213.35.  For example, practice violations that result in a disciplinary sanction of a warning and below.

KSTAR versus Traditional Board Conditions and Stipulations in a Disciplinary Order

In the firm’s experience, there are certainly benefits to the KSTAR program over the traditional monitoring of nurses via conditions and stipulations.  For example, a nurse would not have to present a copy of the disciplinary order to his or her employer during the pendency of the probationary period, the elimination of a probationary period, no prohibition on multiple employers, or quarterly reports from that nurse’s employer, to name a few. 

The main drawback of KSTAR, other than convincing the Board that a nurse meets the eligibility requirements for KSTAR and the particular facts of that case are appropriate for KSTAR, is the cost for the program which must be borne by the nurse.

Certainly, nurses who are not aware that this program exists may unwittingly opt to sign a disciplinary order that may not be beneficial to them or their particular circumstance. 

Nurses may also not understand how best to persuade the Board Staff for inclusion in this program and forego the probationary period, conditions, and stipulations when a disciplinary order is contemplated and assured based on the practice violation(s) in the complaint.

The Phan Law Firm, P.C., has handled scores of cases involving nurses who have participated in the KSTAR program.  Because inclusion into KSTAR is not a one-size-fits all approach and is not assured, the need for an attorney with knowledge and experience in this area (i.e., a Texas nurse attorney or Texas Board defense attorney) is even more important. When faced with this decision, it is prudent to contact a Texas Board defense attorney and a law firm versed in professional license defense that specializes in this area (i.e., defending Texas nurses). This ensures the nurse with the best possible outcome.