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What to expect when your nursing license is suspended

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.

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By | 2018-09-05T20:00:50-04:00 April 25th, 2018|Categories: Nursing careers and jobs|11 Comments

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.


  1. Avatar
    Leeanna Williams August 2, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    My nursing Licence was suspended because the state said I missed 7 drug screens not true how to do get my Licence reinststated

    • Avatar
      Kim Mulaski January 28, 2019 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      Call pnap monitor program they should walk you through it Leeann Good luck

  2. Avatar
    Candace Lucky May 20, 2019 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Leanna Willians can you email me please?

  3. Avatar
    Priscilla urias June 24, 2019 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    My nursing license were suspended in 2010 I need 8 hrs of volunteer work in order to reinstate my license were would I find a place that will help me do my hours.

  4. Avatar
    Anna July 16, 2019 at 6:53 am - Reply

    My nursing license has been suspended because federal did not respond fast enough with proof to IL I did not file taxes certain years I did not work!

  5. Avatar
    Susan Moreland September 15, 2019 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    I hope you can help, my nursing license was suspended in 2003 because I took a substance out of the nursing home that I was working on and they suspended my license and I want to get it back so terribly bad what steps and actions must I take please help

  6. Avatar
    Christina Love November 10, 2019 at 12:58 am - Reply

    My nursing license was suspended after my handicapped child was removed by relatives on and off again without my permission. I lost my job and my home. I need to work and have a suspended license put of the whole ordeal over my travels. I did not commit a crime. How can I get my license reinstated or have them remove it from the computer?

    • Avatar
      Tish Hayden April 3, 2020 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      I have a suspended license until I can come up with $650 to under go an evaluation. I DEARLY WANT TO HELP during this Covid crisis, I’m saddened to be at hone and wish to be on the front lines helping the communities and my peers. Any thought or ideas of how I can GI about this.

      • Heather Cygan
        Heather Cygan April 6, 2020 at 8:09 am - Reply

        Hi Christina, I would contact your state board of nursing and see if they have a recommendation about how you can help. Otherwise, you might want to seek advice from a nurse attorney. You can find one here:

  7. Avatar
    Stella Lubaton November 11, 2019 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I just recently got out of federal case. My licence is suspended. I went to Illinois professional regulation. Was given a lawyer. What are the steps I can start preparing now since the lawyer will not be available for months

  8. Avatar
    Stacy McGarry April 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I had my RN license suspended and now it’s revoked. I have had an amazing career in Maryland and Florida. I had a severe car accident fx my cervical and lumbar spine. Was not expecting to walk again. U shared with a new therapist I was having trouble with my pain meds. I wasn’t working due to the disability and had never had any issue, administrative discipline nothing. I was in hospital having one of many surgeries. Missing the meeting.. I then meet with the Dr for the nursing board. The report was so grossly untrue (example that I’ve been doing cocaine and pot since I was yrs old. If any of the allegations were true not only would I have died in childhood much less have a successful career including
    Charge RN at Johns Hopkins Pediatrician/Adolescent psych, Emergency Charge RN preceptor for the paramedic students and nursing students, etc. Not one employer complains or let me go. I was in no physical shape to fight and I’m now faced with having to pay the whole amount of court costs before I can even apply for new license. The false slanderous Report from the Board physician is attached to any background check from jobs apartments everything. It’s drastically effected my self worth and I’m now ready to try to regain my hard earned RN title but now who will hire me. I’m tired of giving up and really want to help during this crisis. Any suggestions. My license in Maryland was in good standing but has expired these last several years. Any help would be greatly appreciated

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