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I mistakenly worked for four months on an inactive license and the nursing board is penalizing me. How this will affect my reputation and career in the future?

Monday August 6, 2012
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I renewed my RN license last year and placed it in inactive status by mistake. I continued to work for four months after the renewal of my license, unaware that I was in inactive status. When I renewed my license this year, the board claimed that I worked in inactive status until the present time, which is not true. According to them, I violated the state nurse practice act. Now I have to pay $250.00 as a penalty for practicing nursing without a license. If I agree to the terms, the agreement will then be signed by the board president, filed and a copy will be sent to me. Upon filing, the order becomes a public document. Do you think this will affect my reputation as a nurse and any future job applications?

Pearl



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Pearl,

Your situation is a common mistake a nurse can make when renewing his or her license. It is important, though, to be focused when you renew your license and review the application carefully a few times to be certain all the information is correct before sending it in.

Although no discipline is always the best situation for any nurse licensee, you can truthfully explain this error to future employers and that you did not discover it until four months after renewal.

If you are hesitant to sign the agreement, and you are concerned with its accuracy (in terms of the length of time you were practicing on an inactive license), you can have the agreement reviewed by a nurse attorney or attorney in your state. He or she may have some alternate language for you to ask the board to include, rather than what they have proposed, and at least you can feel that the agreement accurately reflects the length of time this inadvertent error existed.

Sincerely,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.