Edie Brous
Nurse Attorney
118 East 28th Street
Room 404
New York, NY 10016
Tel. (212) 989-5469
Fax. (646) 349-5355
Web Site:

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Nurses do not get the information they need about their legal requirements as licensed professionals. They are not told, for example, that once a state has issued a license to practice, the state that issued that license can maintain the authority to discipline that license for the lifetime of the licensee.  I am frequently representing nurses who failed to report criminal convictions or disciplinary action in another state either because they did not know they were required to do so, or because they assumed the requirement only applied to current licensees. 
It is important to know what the Nurse Practice Act says in any state in which you have EVER been issued a license.  Even if you have never practiced in that state, you are responsible to know the rules in the state in which the license was issued. States differ on deadlines, but generally require nurses to notify the nursing board of name and address changes, discipline taken in another jurisdiction, or criminal convictions. The requirement can be at the time of registration renewal, within a certain number of days, or whichever comes first.
It is important to understand the difference between a license and a registration certificate.  A license is generally granted for the lifetime of the licensee, whereas the registration certificate which allows you to practice on that license is only valid for a set time.  It is the registration certificate that expires, not the license.  Because the license is in place regardless of registration status, the license can still be disciplined.
It is also important to understand that when the Board of Nursing imposes discipline in one state, it can lead to discipline in any other state in which you have held a license in the past.
Here are my suggestions:
  • Don’t apply for a license in any state or territory unless and until you are actually going to be employed in that state. Any state in which you have been licensed can impose discipline solely on the basis that another state has done so. It is misconduct in one state to have been disciplined in another.
  • Know what the reporting requirements are of any state in which you have ever been granted a license. Don’t assume that if your registration certificate lapses you no longer have that duty. I have represented nurses in Pennsylvania who are being disciplined for failing to report to the BON that they were disciplined elsewhere even though their Pennsylvania registration had expired as much as 17 years earlier.
  • Get legal advice if you need to self-report so you meet the deadline and are honest in the disclosure, but don’t inadvertently make unnecessary statements against your own interest.
  • Retain counsel to represent you before the nursing board so you understand all of the collateral implications of accepting a settlement or of going to a hearing.
  • Stay insured with your own professional liability insurance policy so you have coverage for legal representation. Licensure discipline is much more likely than a malpractice lawsuit for nurses and that is what you need the policy for. It is inexpensive and will give you peace of mind.
Bar Admissions:
  • New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
  • Southern and Eastern Districts New York Federal Courts
  • United States Supreme Court
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This newsletter is intended to provide general information for educational purposes only.  It does not serve as a substitute for legal advice.  If you need legal assistance engage the services of an attorney in your state.  Subscription to this newsletter does not create an attorney/client relationship.
Copyright © 2016, Edie Brous, Esq. PC