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Can RN malpractice insurance cover psychotherapist practice?

Dear Nancy,

I am a licensed RN in two states and am also a student in a counseling psychology program. I am opening a private practice in coaching and counseling in one state. In the state where I practice, I am a registered psychotherapist, which means I am registered with the state as an unlicensed psychotherapist and am legally able to conduct psychotherapy.

I will use my nursing skills as I will be initially focusing on people with multiple sclerosis, which is an area I have been involved in for many years.

I am getting a malpractice insurance policy under my RN as it is the highest degree and adding registered psychotherapist as an additional occupation. I will follow the ethical standards of nursing and psychotherapy in my practice. I also will be supervised by a PhD-licensed clinical psychologist.

Do you see any major issues with my practicing in this manner?


Dear Ella,

Your idea of combining your professional skills and education sounds interesting. However, to ensure it is consistent with your state’s various statutes that would govern the practice, including the nurse practice act, you need to consult with a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who can provide you with the specific information you need to begin your private practice. One issue to explore is if the supervision by the PhD-licensed clinical psychologist is acceptable under the state nurse practice act when performing nursing skills for your MS patients.

Insofar as your professional liability insurance policy goes, you should also contact your insurance agent and explain what you are envisioning and if the current policy will cover you. You may need to have a new liability policy underwritten specifically for this new practice.

When you combine professional practices, you are required, as you indicated, to follow the legal and ethical obligations of both of those professions. Sometimes doing so can be tricky, so you will need to constantly review the statutes and ethical cannons of both practices and obtain any needed consultations to ensure compliance with both.

Regards, Nancy

By | 2021-05-07T16:35:57-04:00 June 5th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|1 Comment

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

One Comment

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    Abi March 12, 2017 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Thank you for this question segment that you posted Miss Ella and to your knowledgable incite Miss Nancy. I too am interested in going to that direction of opening my own counseling and psychotherapy practice as a nurse practitioner, one day. Even though I just finished nursing last year and got my first job in a subacute/rehab facility, it is really my dream to find a specialty. I know this may sound random, but Miss Ella, I’m wondering if you can my a mentor. I would greatly appreciate it, and so does the community. My email is [email protected]. I wish you the best for your practice there.

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