I frequently get panic calls saying “HELP! I just got a letter that I have to appear before the Board.”
The first thing that I would suggest is to take a deep breath and read this.
There are two types of communications you may get from the Board. The first is an investigation letter and the second is actual charges against your license.
If you receive an investigation letter giving you twenty days to respond, it is important that you respond carefully because what you put in your response could be used against you. My best advice is to hire an attorney with experience before the Board who can help you craft your response in a light most favorable for you.
Most nurses I have represented who had responded themselves are very well meaning and good intentioned but usually they put things in the letter that can hurt them. If you do choose to respond yourself, note that the Board wants to know that you are safe to practice. So, include any information that, indeed, will show the Board that you are safe to practice. Feel free to provide documents if you need.
If you get charges before the Board, this is something altogether different. To get charges means that the State is pretty sure that they can prove their case. The Board can do any one or a combination of the following:
- Give you a reprimand which basically is a slap on the wrist saying “don’t do that again.”
- Put your license on probation with the Board giving specific terms with which you must comply in order to maintain your license while on probation.
- Suspend your license meaning that you will not be able to practice as a nurse.
- Revoke your license.
- Fine you and/or require you to take continuing education.
A hearing is a legal proceeding and you will be required to legally present your case to the Board. Witnesses will be sworn in with a court reporter to record the proceedings including everything that you say.
The State will call witnesses against you to prove their case and you will have the right to cross examine them.
Another option is that you may be able to settle your case rather than have to present it to the Board. If it is possible to negotiate a good settlement, it is preferable to leaving your fate in the hands of all the Board members
I know being called before the Board is a scary and very difficult situation. Every nurse I have represented has said “I never thought I’d get called before the Board.” Also, every nurse I have represented has gotten through this process and has since moved on with their life.
You have an emotional investment in the outcome of the case whereas an attorney does not. That means the attorney can better pursue your legal rights in your best interest.
I hope this never happens to you but, if it does, you know now what to expect.