A Nursing License: The Symbol of a Nurse’s Livelihood and Identity

A Nursing License: The Symbol of a Nurse’s Livelihood and Identity

Sep 13

A nursing license symbolizes a nurse’s identity and livelihood, thus, any possibility of it being revoked can be very alarming and stressful, as this can result in unemployment, even a devastated future. To be able to endure the experience of a lawsuit and the Nursing Board’s investigation and disciplinary acts, as well as to continue having a meaningful profession, it will be highly necessary to have the right support system and, most especially, a lawyer experienced in licensure defense.

Though nursing is a centuries-old profession, the first nursing laws (Nursing Practice Act) were only enacted in the US in1903. These laws are enforced by the federal government through each state’s regulatory agency, usually the state’s Nursing Board (there are about 61 Nursing Boards all across the US, as some states have separate boards for LPNs, RNs and advanced practice nurses). Some of the Board’s functions are:

  • To protect and promote the welfare of the people
  • Establish standards of the nursing practice
  • Regulate the practice of professional and vocational nursing and examine and license qualified applicants
  • Issue rules and regulations that will address the specifics in the nursing profession
  • Accredit schools of nursing
  • Interpret the Nursing Practice Act, the rules and regulations relating to nurse education and licensure
  • Accept complaints and investigate probable violations of the Nursing Practice Act and rules and regulations
  • Discipline violators through appropriate legal action.

It takes enormous love for the profession, patience and skills for one to obtain a nursing license, for besides successfully completing an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (known as NCLEX), much more are required to be able to keep one’s license in good standing and enjoy a meaningful career; these include conformity with specific provisions of the state’s nursing laws, English proficiency, continuing clinical competence or continuous education, good moral character and absence of a criminal record.

Due to the vulnerability of the individuals placed under the care of nurses, the license-granting state wants to make sure that the licensee or nurse is not just qualified and competent, but ethical too. Thus, even the smallest infringement of any law or actions which, according to an article in Leichter Law Firm PC’s website, the hospital, a patient, an employer, a co-worker or even an angry spouse, may deem as unprofessional or unethical, can be reported to the board and the subject/nurse, if within the board’s jurisdiction, will be fully investigated.

Sadly, a nurse may be complained about so many different issues, from legal to personal (which have perfectly no connection to clinical practice), that would warrant nursing board investigations, disciplinary action, suspension from duty or, worse, revocation of license; issues which anyone may deem as implying potential threats to the public’s health, safety and welfare, like:

  • Failure to reregister a license
  • Practicing with an expired license
  • Dishonesty in the application process
  • Failure to notify the board of nursing of address or name changes within a required period
  • Failure to wear an identification badge with one’s status displayed
  • Failure to meet continuing education requirements can all lead to nursing board investigations and disciplinary action
  • Conduct that reflects questionable judgment, impairment, or lapses in moral character
  • Use of recreational or illegal drugs or driving under the influence, even if such would occur while on vacation or outside the state where the nurse practices
  • Attendance problems related to alcohol or drug use may also lead to license discipline
  • Failure to make timely payments for child or spousal support;
  • Failure to file taxes, repay student loans or pay creditors
  • Being accused of a criminal act, child or elder abuse in their own home or violation of a restraining order.

Complaints may be done by directly informing the nursing board through a phone call or a letter, or by filling out a complaint form in the nursing board’s website. And since every complaint is held confidential, even the nurse concerned may not be allowed to read the actual complaint or know who filed it; though he/she will be notified of the complaint and of the investigation that will be undertaken. Upon receipt of this notification, the nurse should immediately seek legal counsel and respond to any inquiry to be sent by the nursing board; failure to do so may result to a default judgment of disciplinary action or revocation of license.

During the hearing, which is usually composed of the administrative law judge (ALJ), a hearing panel made up of several nursing board members and a hearing officer, a court reporter is tasked to make a transcript based on the entire proceeding, which includes statements of the prosecutor, witnesses, experts and defense. It is important to hire a very experienced reporter for an accurate transcript.

It may only be through the assistance of an experienced licensure defense lawyer that you can redeem yourself and retain your license. In fact, even when applying for initial licensure or renewal of license, it is highly advisable that you do it with legal advice.

Again, a nurse’s license symbolizes his/her livelihood and identity; surrendering or relinquishing it even at the face of clear revocation can change your life forever. Thus, when searching for a legal counsel, make sure he/she is second to none.

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