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My nursing license was placed on probation. The probation period is over, but how long will it follow me?

Monday March 22, 2010
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I had a complaint filed against me. I had a current license in that state but had moved to another state where I had an active license. I did not receive the letters from the first state board right away and only found out that I was under review a year after the proceedings began. I called an attorney as soon as I found out and surrendered my license in the first state, something I had to do because I angered the board by not responding to its letters. I did this to save my other active license. I then self-reported to my current state board and was placed on a two-year probation. I had the probation dismissed after one year and have an active license in my state. The original complaint was late paperwork.

How long do you think this will follow me? I cannot leave my original job because I cannot find another. Will the length of time out from probation help? I am one year out. I also am contemplating going back to school for an MSN so that I can teach, but will I be able to get another job?

Paula



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Paula,

It sounds as though you handled this situation as best as you could, including retaining an attorney for specific advice in your situation. You may want to contact the attorney who handled your representation to determine whether either state allows for an expungement of any disciplinary actions taken against a licensee in the particular state. This is not always possible but the attorney can provide you with the information needed, if this action is available to you.

Regardless of whether expungement is possible, prospective employers often will ask (either in writing on the application or orally during an interview) prospective employees whether their license ever has been disciplined. Although you will need to rely on your attorney’s specific advice in answering the question if the discipline is expunged, if it is not, the touchstone of the response is truth. In other words, sharing what happened and the specific circumstances of the two disciplines will be necessary so that your credibility is not called into question when the employer discovers these two unexpunged disciplines (and it will). Sharing the circumstances in the most positive light possible, including the second board’s dismissal of your second year of probation, is important. It seems that, as in the case of most of these kinds of circumstances, the second board took action against you there because of a provision in the nurse practice act there giving the board the authority to discipline a licensee when the individual has been disciplined in another state.

There are no guarantees that a job will be available to anyone. These two disciplines, however, should not be seen as a bar to obtaining a new position or continuing your education in nursing.

Cordially,
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.