If you are a nurse who likes to travel and see new places, then travel nursing might be a great option for you. With the nationwide nursing shortage, nurses can often accept assignments to work at hospitals throughout the country – wherever they are needed most. Registered nurses (RNs), licensed professional nurses (LPNs), nurse practitioners, and other nurses may need to obtain a separate license in the states where they travel if their state – like California – does not belong to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).
While there are a lot of benefits to being a traveling nurse, it can also raise unique issues. In particular, many registered nurses find themselves wondering what exactly their obligations are with regards to their professional license as they move from state to state. A failure to comply with Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) requirements, such as for reporting criminal charges in another jurisdiction, may lead to disciplinary action – including probation, suspension, or even revocation of your nursing license.
If you are facing a board of nursing investigation or Accusation, it is vital that you reach out to an experienced nursing license defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can work with you to put together a proactive strategy to deal with these types of investigations, and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your matter.
In California, nurses are governed by the Nursing Practice Act (NPA), which is part of the Business and Professions Code (BPC). This law gives the BRN the authority to regulate the practice of nursing in the state – and to impose discipline when necessary for violations of the NPA.
Currently licensed nurses have affirmative reporting and disclosure obligations. Specifically, nurses must disclose license discipline and criminal convictions within 30 days in accordance with 16CCR1441. Although nursing applicants no longer have an obligation to disclose their convictions during their application process, it may be beneficial to explain and mitigate the underlying conviction.
For each instance, licensees must provide:
Failure to disclose a disciplinary action, arrest, and/or conviction to the California BRN may result in disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of your nursing license.
If you are a licensed California travel nurse and are licensed to work in another state (or multiple states), then your nursing license may be in jeopardy if you do not disclose or declare:
For example, if you are working in another state as a travel nurse when you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). While you may not be required to report a misdemeanor DUI arrest, the BRN will likely be notified of the arrest through law enforcement agencies. If you are convicted of a DUI – even in another state – then you will be required to disclose that conviction to the BRN.
The nursing board will investigate the matter and may take disciplinary action for a DUI, depending on the facts of the case. If you are convicted of a DUI and failed to report it to the BRN, then that may be the basis of a separate disciplinary cause of action.
In the past, it often took time for licensing boards and law enforcement agencies in different states to communicate. With the internet and shared databases, it is a relatively simple matter for a nursing board to learn about an arrest, conviction, or disciplinary action in another jurisdiction. For this reason, these types of disclosures should be made as soon as possible, within the statute deadlines, after consulting a healthcare license defense attorney.
If the BRN learns of a criminal matter or disciplinary issue in another state, it will typically begin an investigation into the allegations. If investigators find that there is evidence to support a formal disciplinary action, then the BRN will file an Accusation (or formal charge) against your license. The matter will then move forward to an administrative hearing, where a judge will hear evidence and issue a decision.
The BRN is clear: nurses have an affirmative duty to report license discipline and criminal convictions. In some cases, such as felonies, nurses may also be required to disclose arrests. Because doing so can kick off an investigation by the Department of Consumer Affairs, it is often a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional license defense attorney before making a disclosure.
There are a number of considerations that go into making a disclosure. As noted above, you may not be required to disclose an arrest for certain misdemeanor arrests. However, because the BRN will likely learn about the arrest – and because you will be required to make a disclosure if you are convicted – it is important to think carefully about a disclosure. Convictions and disciplinary action in another jurisdiction must be disclosed under the Nurse Practice Act.
A compassionate attorney will work with you to help you determine your reporting requirements, whether for disciplinary action in another state or a criminal matter. They can help you decide when to disclose, and – more importantly – how to make the disclosure. The framing of this type of report may help to protect your license.
As a travel nurse, you know firsthand the value of your nursing license. Proactively seeking legal advice about disciplinary matters and/or criminal charges is the best way to ensure that you will be able to continue practicing as a nurse – both in California and in other states.
Even the most conscientious professional can make a mistake or have an error in judgment – including travel nurses. If your California nursing license is in jeopardy, our law firm is here to help.
At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, we are dedicated to helping professionals who are facing California board complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions. For each client, we develop a multi-pronged strategy designed to best assist the client. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a San Diego nursing license defense attorney, contact us at 619-237-6130 or fill out our online contact form.