There are several ways a nurse gets suspended. And then we’ll kind of talk about the repercussions of being suspended. There are several ways a nurse gets suspended. One is if they’re in a confidential monitoring program with their licensing board and violate that agreement. There will usually be some language that states any of the reasons. If they fail a drug test, they may stop sending quarterly reports and quit going to AA. Or whatever the terms of the agreement are if the nurse stops doing those. There is a normal language that would automatically trigger a suspension. Another way a nurse gets suspended is if the board feels they’re an imminent threat to the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
In that case, most states have a process that’s called a summary suspension. And at either a regularly scheduled or an emergency board meeting. The board will discuss whether the nurse’s conduct rises to the level that necessitates a suspension. They allow the nurse to address the board or discuss the issues leading to the possible suspension. But the summary suspension means something has triggered the board’s staff to think a suspension is necessary. And then the other way that a nurse can get suspended is if they’re on disciplinary probation. There’s a difference between being in a confidential monitoring program and being placed on disciplinary probation. Generally, the terms are similar. For instance, if there’s a substance abuse issue, it’d be regular drug testing participation in AA, maybe a nurse recovery group, or some level of supervision at work.
When Will It Become State Suspension?
And so, the nurse went through the investigation even if it’s like an alternative discipline program or formal probation. The board heard the matter and decided to put them on formal disciplinary probation. In that case, the result is the same. On a consent agreement, they have to follow the terms. And suppose, in this example, they do not follow the terms of the consent agreement. In that case, depending upon the agreement’s language, it can be automatically suspended. In that case, we call that a state suspension. That means the board has already said that this is serious. Often, if it’s just standard probation and the nurse violates it, it goes back to the board for review.
The language will state if the nurse violates the agreement and if it’s a state suspension. The state lifts, and the nurse faces suspension. That’s how it goes. Those are the three scenarios where a nurse can face suspension. Now, what does nurse suspension mean? They can’t practice simply as that. They can no longer practice as LPN, RN, NP, CRNA, or CNA. Whatever it is, they cannot practice as nurses until the case resolves. In most states, once the license gets suspended, they forward it to a formal hearing. Generally in front of what’s called an administrative law judge. Different states have different periods. But normally, it’s somewhere between 30 to 60 days that a hearing overrule. And then, at that hearing, the nurse can present evidence to the judge.
How Can You Protest Against a Suspension?
And then, the judge can either reject, accept, or modify the board’s decision. Then normally, it gets kicked back to the board, and they can do the same. The only way, I guess, to remove the suspension is to go to the hearing. The judge recommends it’s unnecessary, or they could reach an agreement on a new consent agreement with the board’s attorney. Normally, if we have a nurse who has been on a consent agreement, violated it, or gets their license suspended. We can then negotiate with the board’s attorney to try to agree to a new consent agreement. That would have the same terms or maybe something more punitive.
There is also another kind of mechanism called stayed revocation. And that’s the highest level of a consent agreement regarding being punitive. And in that case, it’s called a stay revocation if the nurse violates the agreement. The state lifts and revokes the license automatically. The nurse will have no chance to explain in some scenarios. If they had violated previous consent agreements. Or maybe they’d been on probation multiple times and received disciplinary actions throughout their nursing career. It’s a tough option because you screw up, and that’s it if it’s a stayed revocation.
So, that’s what it means when a nurse gets suspended. They can’t practice. They do have some appeal rights and administrative rights as far as going to a hearing. But if you’re on a suspension. It will likely end up in a probationary document listing many things you must do.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Nursing Law: Can you be a Nurse with a Misdemeanor Assault Charge?
- Can You be a Nurse with a Misdemeanor Drug Charge?
- What Happens When a Nurse is Reported to the Board?
Can a Nurse Continue to Work if Suspended by the Arizona Nursing Board?
No, a nurse cannot work as a nurse if their license gets suspended. The Arizona State Board of Nursing (“Board”) protects the medical welfare of the people of Arizona. They do this by ensuring each professional who holds a license as a nurse in Arizona can practice safely. If the Board believes a nurse cannot practice safely. They can initiate a summary suspension.
A summary suspension can occur when the Board believes that the public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action necessitating the immediate suspension of a nurse’s license. Examples of actions that can lead to a summary suspension:
- Substance Abuse
- Sexual Misconduct
- Mental Health Concerns
- Refusal to Follow Board Order
Suspension Work Implications
If the Board grants the summary suspension of a nurse’s license. The nurse must immediately cease providing care as a nurse. A hearing will then be scheduled (within 60 days) in front of an Administrative Law Judge at the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings.
It’s always disappointing when a nurse receives an unfavorable decision from the Arizona Board of Nursing (AZBON). However, nurses in Arizona can benefit from understanding the process that goes along with Arizona Board of Nursing appeals. Hearings after complaints get heard. Suppose you are facing an unfavorable AZBON outcome due to an Arizona Board of Nursing disciplinary action. In that case, you can always appeal the decision (for instance, after lpn discipline).
Filing an Appeal After a Nursing Board Meeting
The investigatory process and the appeal process work like this: The AZBON receives a complaint or initiates an investigation into the nurse’s conduct (like a UCNA, LNA, or CNA).
Once the Board receives a complaint or self-report, they will initiate an investigation (like if a patient in Phoenix files information putting a nurse certificate at risk). This investigation aims to give the AZBON evidence to decide whether a nurse should face disciplinary action (for instance, due to reporting a misdemeanor charge or conviction). If the nurse receives an unfavorable decision, they can file an appeal. And request an Arizona Nursing Board Hearing with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge will oversee the appeal, and the nurse may need to attend a hearing. However, sometimes the investigation is automatically sent to a hearing or held at an informal settlement conference.
Practice Restriction Cost DEA Registration
One thing for an advanced practice nurse to consider. Is How a Practice Restriction Could Cost an Arizona Nurse Practitioner Their DEA Registration. Suppose the Arizona Board of Nursing has placed an Arizona nurse practitioner on probation. In that case, the probation can sometimes include a practice restriction. That limits or completely stops the nurse practitioner from prescribing controlled substances for a period.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) generally gets the report of these restrictions. The DEA may deny, suspend or revoke a practitioner’s DEA registration for the following reasons:
- A falsified DEA registration application
- A state license has been placed on probation, suspended, revoked, or denied
- Excluded from participation in Medicare or Medicaid programs
- Convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance
- Committed an act that is inconsistent with the public interest
Show Cause Order
The DEA can’t take action without the following protocol. The protocol guides when acting against someone’s registration to sell controlled substances. It must first serve them with a show cause order before issuing any orders for suspension or revocation. However, suppose there is enough evidence that gives rise to “an imminent danger.” In that case, these are considered emergencies. They will issue simultaneous immediate suspensions and orders for show cause while having time-sensitive deadlines afterward, so everything goes smoothly.
Suppose you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Nursing Board Appeals services. And how to protect your rights. Set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Nursing Attorney, and reach out to us today.
What Can Disqualify You From Being a Nurse?
What can disqualify you from becoming a nurse? I’m only going to talk about applicants. Not people that the state has already licensed. This article will be a general discussion. I’m thinking of going to nursing school, or I’ve completed nursing school. Now, I must apply to a board. What things in my past can disqualify me from being a nurse in the future? Lastly, this is not going to be state-specific. It’s just going to be a general discussion.
The first and probably the most obvious thing is some heinous criminal incidents in your past. Almost none of the boards in any state contain a list of things. A list says you can’t get a license if you’ve done these things. No matter what, they’ll have a general guideline. But, any violent crimes. Suppose you were a maybe heavy distributor of drugs or sexual misconduct. Those are things that are hard to rehabilitate from, or at least in the eyes of the board. And so, having those in your past can be a barrier to getting a license.
Getting a Nursing License After A Crime
When I talk to nurses who are always concerned about DUIs, marijuana possessions, theft, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, and an assault charge. It may not feel like it, but these are relatively low-level crimes. And not because you’ve had those in your past. It generally won’t disqualify you from getting a license in the future. Now, if you’ve had 20 assault charges. It’s probably not going to happen for you. But if it’s a handful of things from 20 years ago. It will not hinder you from getting your nursing license.
And even in this scenario where the board was very concerned about past behavior. The Board always offered the nurse a probationary license, meaning they would grant the license. Still, they would simultaneously put them on probation for one to three years. At the end of that probationary period, their license was unencumbered.
I guess the timing of the felony would matter. Some states require a certain period after either the felony. I guess the nurse or potential nurse was either convicted of the felony or completed the probationary requirements. I know here in Arizona, someone must have at least three years from the date of termination of probation for a felony to be eligible to reapply or apply for a nursing license.
Nursing Background Check, Criminal Records, and State License
The first things are heinous crimes, and two, high negative publicity events. Boards of nursing are very concerned about the public image of nurses. And suppose there’s been a past incident with an applicant that negatively impacts the nursing profession. In that case, that board will be much less likely to issue the license. Most of those end up being criminals. Still, it would help if you considered that these are political agencies. And the politics of issuing licenses to criminal-looking people who are either dangerous or incompetent. Is not something most boards are willing to do.
When the State Revokes Your Nursing License
Lastly, if you’ve had another healthcare license and are on the OIG exclusionary list. The inspector general’s office has this list where if you’ve had a license revoked, suspended, voluntary surrender, or a certain number of crimes. They can exclude you from billing under Medicare or Medicaid. The boards, for the most part, don’t care about that at all. However, the employers, or at least some employers, will. If they can’t bill for you, they will not employ you. So, you need to think, alright, what happened to put me on that exclusionary list? And then you also need to consider ways of getting off it after a period and jumping through certain hoops. It would help if you investigated doing that disqualification as well.
Very few things can completely disqualify a nurse from getting a license. Most boards want to see if something bad happens. Have you learned from it? Did you take steps to remediate the behavior in some way? If it was maybe drugs or alcohol, did you go to AA? Did you go to counseling? Did you go to an intensive outpatient treatment program or rehab? Have you made just healthy changes in your lifestyle so that you can deal with stress better? These are the things the boards want to hear. Just because you’ve had one bad thing happen in your past if you’ve learned from it and incorporated positive things into your life. That’s what the boards want to see.
Can a Felon Become a Nurse?
People make mistakes. It’s fine. But if the same thing keeps happening and you’re not learning from it. At some point, you likely have an interview with an investigator from the board. If you’ve applied to some criminal history and state, I was a frame-up victim, making excuses. Those are not the things that they want to hear.
This will deal with people who may be planning to be a nurse. And then decided, maybe I can get into nursing school but will getting a license from a state be a problem down the road when I have a criminal record? I’m not going to focus on what happens if a currently licensed nurse gets a felony. In short, if you do have a felony in your past, can it completely bar you from your plan to become a nurse? The short answer is no. However, it’s going to be state-specific. I’m not going to talk about one state over another. This is going to be a general analysis of what you need to do to determine if you can get a license and become a registered nurse or not.
Things to Consider if You Have Felony as a Nursing Student
First, every state is going to have different rules, unfortunately. So, if you apply to one state, it might be no problem. And then another might be a complete bar to getting a nursing license. Before you even go into nursing school, you need to think, what state will I want to end up in? And then, you need to research the rules of that state to figure out the felony conviction issues. In most states, they won’t have a complete bar to license if you’ve had a felony in your past. But they will initiate an investigation and then investigate what happened. What was the reason behind the felony conviction? And obviously, what the felony conviction was is going to be a big determining factor in whether you can get licensed or not.
You probably should call an attorney in the state you’re considering getting licensed to deal with nursing board issues. Before the board performs a criminal background check. They won’t give you an “absolutely you’ll get licensed” or “there’s no way that you will,” but they can give you some general guidelines. This is what the board has done in the past. These are the rules for the board as far as felonies go. Then maybe what you can do to put yourself in the best position to get licensed. I think that’s probably the most efficient use of your time. But you could go on the board’s website and determine the rules regarding a felony. Some states call it a felony bar. So, maybe type that into the search, something like that.
Crimes that Lead to Suspended Nursing
But let’s say you do apply. They run criminal background checks and screening. It pops up, or almost every application states that you must disclose if you’ve had a felony crime. Then you’ll have to provide the police record, court documents, discharge from probation, or documentation that states you’ve completed whatever the sentence was.
After you gather all that, the board usually wants you to write a statement about what happened. And then, at some point, you’ll usually have an interview with the board investigator, just kind of go over, alright, well, what were the reasons behind the incident?
Some felony crimes will probably be a complete bar to you ever getting a license. Such as child abuse, sexual misconduct, and sometimes if you were involved in prescription drug distribution. You will have access to all the narcotics in the world when you work as a nurse. If you have a bunch of criminal convictions in your past about diverting or selling prescription meds. This will concern the medical board, for they want to ensure the health and safety of their patients first.
Rehabilitation Programs, Counseling, Fellowships, Therapies
Any super violent crime, or adult abuse, that is very difficult to rehab from will be the biggest problem as far as past felonies go. If you have a drug problem, an alcohol problem, or even domestic violence, you can do anger management. You can do AA. You can do NA. Or you can get counseling. It is easier to get a license after your nursing education. More than if you have things that most people would not consider something you can rehabilitate from. This includes abuse, sexual misconduct, and honesty convictions like fraud and identity theft.
To recap: first, you need to figure out what state you want to get licensed in. Second, probably call an attorney in that state that does nursing board stuff to ask, what are the laws around past felony convictions?
There may not be a bunch of specific things about the past. I know most boards will have specific things that will happen if you’re currently licensed to get a felony. Still, not all the boards will have laws that state, if you have a felony in your past, here’s what’s going to happen. But still, talk it over. Where does the board usually look? What did they do with this type of felony crime in the past? And then if there are some steps you can take during nursing school, like going to AA or rehab or counseling. That will set you up and put you in a better position when you ultimately apply for your license.
You might be thinking, can a felon become a nurse? “Am I disqualified from being a nurse forever?” It will not completely bar you from being a nurse, most likely. Just do your research.
Nursing Law: Can You Be a Nurse With a Misdemeanor Assault Charge?
This is not going to be state-specific. I’m just going to give you general tips and things to consider if you apply for your nursing license. I know that many people that read these blogs may also think of going into nursing school. And are thinking, maybe I can get into nursing school. Still, I couldn’t get a license and wasted time and money. So, I will talk more about applicants or even people considering attending nursing school. This is not going to direct towards currently licensed nurses.
Alright, so you have a past misdemeanor drug charge which could be a possession of a bunch of different drugs, potentially distribution. There are some misdemeanor distribution charges as well. If convicted, you’ve either gone to trial and lost or reached a plea with the prosecutor. And then you had to do community service, fines, drug counseling, or treatment. Whatever it is, the board cares about convictions for the most part and not just charges. It doesn’t mean you’re ultimately guilty if you received crime charges. Only when you got convicted, reached a plea, or maybe went into a pretrial diversion program. That’s where most boards find that the nurse, in their minds, would be convicted. So, if you’ve had, let’s say, one misdemeanor possession of marijuana from 20 years ago. That will not keep you from getting your nursing license.
What Does the Nursing Board Usually Look For in Drug Charges?
When a board looks at the criminal pass of a nurse, they’re going to run two things. They will ask in the application, which changes from state to state. Still, usually, they’ll ask: do you have any felony convictions? And then two, potentially, do you have any misdemeanor charges involving substance abuse? It does vary from state to state. It would help if you looked at the application’s specific language of the state that you’re looking to apply to. And then see what you have to disclose. And then, the board is also going to write a criminal background check. Then anything that pops up in that criminal background check will likely reach out to you. And ask you to summarize what happened and maybe even potentially provide them with the police records or court documents.
Now, in a board’s mind, what they care about is that they’re going to license safe nurses that don’t have drug problems. And the board’s stated mission is to protect the public. They’re not there to protect the nurse, so they’ll see how many different misdemeanor drug charges or convictions they have. If you’ve had 15 in the last three years, that is a big problem, and you will probably not get your license. If you had, as I said before, maybe one from 20 years ago, almost no chance you wouldn’t get your license. It’s a sliding scale. It would help if you thought about how much time had elapsed from when you had your last conviction until when you applied. And then how many did you have?
Board Reconsiderations Based on How You Solved a Problem
You can also think that if you did have a drug problem at the time, what have you done to fix the problem?
If a nurse is addicted to methamphetamine doesn’t mean you won’t get your license. Still, the board certainly wants to know, if you had addiction issues, what did you do to solve that problem? Did you go to AA or NA, or did you go to counseling? Did you seek treatment, go into inpatient rehab, or go into an intensive outpatient treatment program in IOP. Maybe you’ve made lifestyle changes, have a different friend group, got away from an abusive spouse, or something like that. There must be a change if there’s just a big cluster of drug problems at a time. There must be some rehabilitation change for the board to feel comfortable issuing a license.
When Charges Are Frequent and More Than Just a Misdemeanor
Let’s just say it’s a recent number of drug charges, and they think this nurse hasn’t done what they need to do. It’s possible they could issue the license and put the nurse on simultaneous probation for drug issues. Most states would include random drug testing, supervision at work, continuing education, a nurse recovery group, counseling, and rehab. I mean, there’s a variety of things they could do. But even if you’ve had a bunch of recent things, you’re willing to do what it takes to get your license. As I said before, the board can issue the license but put you on probation. It could be anywhere from 12 to 36 months, sometimes more. And if you were to get through that period, the Board would no longer encumber your license.
Now, one bad thing about being placed on probation is if an alternative to a discipline program is not available for you. In an alternative discipline program, there’s a confidential monitoring program where you can do all the things I just listed, but it wouldn’t be public. And it wouldn’t be considered formal discipline. If the board only offers you formal discipline, that will stay in your record, at least in most states. So, you must consider, even if I get a license, if I have this blemish on it forever. Is that going to dampen my chances of possibly getting the job I want? I would say no, but it is more difficult to find a job if you have a disciplinary history.
Approach an Authority of the Matter
So, in summary, you’re probably fine if you have one or two misdemeanor drug convictions. The closer to the date you apply, the more scrutiny you will get from the board. But overall, every situation is a little bit different. What I would suggest, I’m in Arizona, so I only help nurses with the Arizona board. Before applying to a nursing school, it might make sense to reach out to somebody in the state. Tell him that you’re considering applying to a nursing school. Someone with experience with nursing board issues, and ask, in the past, have you had a similar scenario?
And then what is the likelihood of me getting a license once I apply? No one will be able to give you a 100% accurate guess. Still, suppose someone’s been doing the nursing board for a long time. In that case, they can usually give you a decently accurate estimation of whether you would get licensed or not. And then maybe if there was disciplinary action attached to that or not.
Can You Be a Nurse With a DUI?
Can you be a nurse with a DUI? First, let’s just talk about what it means to have a DUI. You could’ve been charged with the DUI but never convicted. That’s not going to prevent you from becoming a nurse. I’m just talking about convictions here. That means you either pled guilty through a plea agreement, went to trial, lost, and were found guilty. That’s what I’m talking about. Or, maybe you reached a pretrial diversion program, which most boards consider a guilty outcome. Now, first, this is just general information. Every state has its own specific rules as far as kind of criminal background.
Will Your License Be Granted in the Presence of DUI?
I will give you general information and things to think about. Maybe you’re thinking about entering nursing school or perhaps just finishing up nursing school. And now you’re going to have to apply to boards, and you’re like, oh no. I do have the stuff in my background. I never thought about it. Can I get a license? So, delay any major fear. 99 times out of 100, yes, if you have a DUI in your past, you’ll still be able to get your nursing license. It may be under some conditions, but it’s very rare unless it’s a felony DUI that would prevent you from getting a nursing license. Let’s break down what a board will look at if you have a past DUI.
Usually, when you apply, which is state-specific. It’ll normally say, have you had any convictions regarding substance abuse or alcohol or something? A DUI is, yes, considered one of those. And it’s going to say, alright, tell us when it happened, where it happened, give us a little statement about it. And then they may even want the nurse to provide them with a criminal record. There are two parts to any record of the policy documents and the court documents. And they’re separate. They’re normally not in the same place. You’ll have to request them from both. Once you have all of that, you’ve submitted a statement, then depending upon the length of time that you elapsed since you had the DUI, what your BAC was.
Do you have any other kind of substance abuse-related? Drug charges, possession sale of cocaine or marijuana, a lot of disorderly conduct, or domestic violence-related incidents involving alcohol.
Is It One DUI or an Underlying Substance Abuse?
Suppose there are any major red flags beyond one regular DUI in the past. What a state nursing board will normally do is they’re going to investigate. The investigation will be kind of a review of all the criminal and court documents of the nurse. And then they’ll usually ask to speak to the nurse. What happened here? What was going on in the life of the nurse at the time? Did the nurse have to do any kind of rehabilitation? Did the nurse go into rehab, maybe an IOP? Have you been doing AA? What are the nurse’s current drinking habits? Those are the questions they’re going to ask to determine whether you have a problem or not? The stated purpose of every board of nursing is to protect the public, not the nurses. They’re not there for you. They’re there to protect the public.
Suppose they’re going to license somebody with a criminal background involving a DUI. In that case, they want to ensure that the nurse doesn’t continue to have substance abuse-related problems. That may bleed into the clinical side of providing patient care while being a healthcare provider. Or, if the nurse did have problems in the past, the nurse must fix them in some way. As I said before, doing rehab or an IOP or counseling, AA, all those things. Just because a nurse had one DUI in the past doesn’t mean the nurse needs to do all those things.
Options for Proving Nurse Had Changed
Well, you probably don’t need to go to rehab or AA or do anything if you just had one DUI 10 years ago and made a stupid decision. Now, if you’ve had three DUIs and you had a very high, like over 0.2 BAC, at least in Arizona, it’s a super extreme DUI.
Yes, you probably need to do those things to show the board that you have dealt with the issues and that you no longer have those problems. They’re going to ask about all your current drinking habits, so how much do you drink now? As a lawyer, I talk to nurses and say, ” Okay, you’ve had one DUI, fine.” It’s a great scheme of things. That’s not a big deal, but what are your current drinking habits? And they say I drink a six-pack every night before bed. Okay, but most nursing boards will describe that as someone with a substance abuse problem. Think of them as the parish organization. Anything above normal social drinking will shoot up red flags for them.
Now, if they think you may have an issue. Some boards will then have a nurse get a substance abuse evaluation by a psychologist. It can be a substance abuse counselor to get an opinion on whether they have any substance abuse problems. That could become a problem in their job as healthcare providers. And whether that professional believes they need a monitoring program.
Worst Case Scenario For Nurses Who’ve Had One DUI
Usually, the worst-case scenario for nurses with DUI in their background is that the nursing board will force them to go on probation for a period. And they’ll grant the license simultaneously. They’ll say, yes, you can be a nurse. But you’ll be on probation for 12 months and have to do random drug screens, AA, recovery group, and supervision at work. You can’t use your multi-state privilege if your state offers that. That’s usually the worst-case scenario for nurses to get completely denied a license based upon a single DUI in their past is extraordinarily rare. Almost for sure would-be other factors involved beyond just that one incident. So, take a deep breath. If you’ve had one DUI, it doesn’t mean the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean you’re never going to get a nursing license, but there may be some things you’ll have to explain.
If you do have an extensive criminal history. It’s probably a good idea to contact an attorney in your state that handles the board stuff. This is to devise a plan or say, do I need to do these things before I apply for my license? That would make the most sense. As I said before, I’m only in Arizona, so I can only assist nurses here in Arizona. But I think this is good general advice for any nurses who’ve had a DUI in the past.
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