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Paul Hirtle, 13553692

The Member was found to have committed acts of professional misconduct by engaging in inappropriate conduct towards, and/or sexual harassment of, two nursing students by making sexual jokes and comments, staring at the students in an uncomfortable manner, winking at a student and rubbing her back and sending a voice message of a sexual nature to a student that stated “I miss you. My wife is away,” or words to that effect.

The Member was present and self-represented at the liability and penalty hearings.

The Panel found the Member guilty of:

  • contravening a standard of practice of the profession or failing to meet the standard of practice of the profession; and
  • engaging in conduct relevant to the practice of nursing, that, having regard to all the circumstances would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable and/or unprofessional.

The Panel made an order that included the following:

  • an oral reprimand;
  • a 5-month suspension;
  • terms, conditions and limitations, including:
    • attending a minimum of two meetings with a Regulatory Expert; and
    • employer notification for 18 months.

Aggravating factors considered by the Panel included:

  • the Member was in a supervisory role over nursing students and did not maintain professional behaviour;
  • the Member’s conduct occurred over a period of time and he demonstrated an ongoing pattern of behaviour targeting two nursing students;
  • the Member’s conduct occurred in a clinical setting and included a joke and comments with a sexual connotation directed towards two nursing students which was done in a manner that was humiliating and embarrassing to the nursing students;
  • the Member’s behaviour of sending a voice mail to a nursing student was highly inappropriate given his supervisory role as the student’s clinical instructor; and
  • the Member took advantage of his position of power over two nursing students in various ways.

 

Mitigating factors considered by the Panel included:

 

  • the Member had no prior discipline history with the College of Nurses of Ontario; and
  • the Member submitted good character evidence speaking to his clinical abilities in his role as a practicing nurse.

The Member is currently appealing the decisions.

Page last reviewed May 06, 2020