A reader submitted a question about her RN license being suspended and wonders what she should do to get her license back.
A suspension of one’s professional nursing license is a serious discipline. Only a revocation is grimmer. Although any professional licensure discipline may present problems, a suspension raises unique complications.
The written order of suspension
The board’s written order of suspension is key to strategizing a course to obtain re-licensure. It will include requirements the individual must meet in order to apply for reinstatement of the license.
Although the reader did not include why her license was suspended, the more serious the reason the board took that action against her the more difficult it is to overcome. For example, if the license was suspended because of the commission of a crime for which she was convicted, the board will carefully evaluate the applicant’s character and fitness to be re-licensed.
Requirements in such an instance would most likely require written documentation of successful completion of probation and no other arrests or convictions of a crime.
Likewise, if the suspension occurred because of a clinical error during the provision of patient care, character and fitness to be licensed also will be evaluated, albeit with different factors to consider.
Those factors might include the successful completion, within a specified period of time, of a nursing education program-based course on an applicable patient care topic.
How soon can you be reinstated?
The order also will include when the individual can apply for reinstatement of the license. Although timeframes vary and would depend again on why the nurse was disciplined, the order could specify one or several months to one or several years.
Another obstacle facing a nurse with a suspension of the license is when the suspension took place and when he or she may apply for reinstatement. If the timeframe is a long one, the board may require the successful completion of a clinical update course to ensure that nursing skills are up to date and the applicant is competent to practice nursing.
In states that require continuing education for licensure or re-licensure, that requirement will need to be met before restoration of the license can occur and within the time limits for taking such courses.
This hurdle is not as difficult to overcome as some of the others since the courses that do not include a clinical component can be easily taken online or during an association meeting, as long as the course are ones accepted by the board.
When completion of all requirements of the order of suspension are met, the nurse can then petition the board for reinstatement of the license. Many boards have specific requirements that must be included in the petition, including details of meeting the parameters of the suspension order and attaching supporting documents, letters of recommendation and other information.
Often the board will want to meet with the petitioner so the board members can ask additional questions of the applicant. Likewise, the applicant may want to verbally provide additional information to the board members.
If reinstatement is granted, the board’s order will include any limitations on the nurse’s practice. For example, if the license was suspended because of a substance use disorder, despite successful treatment for that disorder, the board may restrict the nurse from practicing alone on a night shift for a period of years.
Or the board may reinstate the license but place the nurse on probation for a number of years to ensure it can monitor his or her practice during that time. Monitoring could include the submission of a letter to the board from the nurse at designated times detailing her progress during this period, letters from the employer rating the nurse’s employee conduct and his or her employment status, and letters from any treating healthcare providers.
Because the process is a long and involved one requiring a thorough understanding of the legal aspects of the procedure for reinstatement and the state nurse practice act and its rules retaining a nurse attorney or attorney to represent the nurse is essential.
You can read more about professional licensure discipline and boards of nursing.
Editor’s note: Nancy Brent’s 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.
Courses related to ‘legal and ethical aspects of nursing’
CE548: Protect Yourself: Know Your Nurse Practice Act
(1 contact hr)
Nurses have an obligation to keep abreast of current issues surrounding the regulation of the practice of nursing, not only in their respective states, but also across the nation, especially when their nursing practice crosses state borders. Because the practice of nursing is a right granted by a state to protect those who need nursing care, nurses have a duty to patients to practice in a safe, competent and responsible manner. This requires a nurse licensee to practice in conformity with their states statute and regulations. This course outlines information about nurse practice acts and how they affect nursing practice.
CE655: The Nurses’ Bill of Rights
(1 contact hr)
The American Nurses Association (ANA) held a nursing staffing summit in Washington, D.C., in 2000. In a survey preceding the summit, 75% of nurses reported the quality of nursing care at their facilities had declined because of inadequate staffing and decreased nurse satisfaction. More than 200 summit attendees determined the need for a document to detail what nurses need and deserve to do the best for their patients. This need served as the impetus for the Nurses’ Bill of Rights, which was approved by the ANA board of directors in 2001. The Nurses’ Bill of Rights is a statement of professional rights rather than a legal document. It establishes an informal covenant between nurses and their employing institutions to help guide organizational policy and to focus discussions between nurses and employers on issues related to patient care and working conditions. Nurses can advocate more effectively for patients’ rights when they have critical information about their own rights. Not every nurse is familiar with the Nurses’ Bill of Rights or related rights described by various state boards of nursing and nursing associations in their position statements. This module provides an overview of them.
60097: Everyday Ethics for Nurses
(7.3 contact hrs)
This course provides an overview of bioethics as it applies to healthcare and nursing in the U.S. It begins by describing the historical events and forces that brought the bioethics movement into being and explains the concepts, theories and principles that are its underpinnings. It shows how ethics functions within nursing, as well as on a hospitalwide, interdisciplinary ethics committee. The course also explains the elements of ethical decision making as they apply to the care of patients and on ethics committees. The course concludes with a look at the ethical challenges involved in physician-assisted suicide, organ transplantation and genetic testing.