Nurses, if you drink this holiday weekend … take a cab home.

At the start of this holiday weekend, I wanted to reach out to Ohio medical professionals and remind them that their behavior is of concern to the Ohio Board of Nursing whether at work or at home. If you venture out this weekend to an end of summer holiday party and knock back a few beers or a couple of jello shots, take a cab home.

Each year, dozens (if not hundreds) of nurses receive alcohol related traffic violations. DUIs, OVIs, reckless operation charges, and any alcohol related misdemeanor may lead to discipline taken by the Ohio Board of Nursing against your nursing license. You don’t have to be “drunk at work” or fail a breathalyzer test on the way to work for the Nursing Board to be concerned about your ability to practice safely as a nurse in Ohio. Alcohol related traffic violations can lead to your nursing license being placed on probation and may subject you to random drug screens and Nursing Board monitoring for lengthy periods of time. The severity of the charges may also lead to suspension of your Nursing license.

I have written about this issue in the past. See my June 11 post about the requirement to disclose alcohol related convictions on your renewal application; my May 25 post about not being able to consume alcohol in ANY form if you are being monitored by the Board, and my April 30 post featuring the top three reasons the Nursing Board takes disciplinary action against a nurse (alcohol and drug usage being one of the top three reasons for Board discipline).

If you are going to “party” this weekend, be smart about it. Don’t get behind the wheel of the car if you have been drinking. Don’t risk your professional license.Take a cab home.

If you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact me at (614) 486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

You can be licensed as a nurse in Ohio with a criminal history … depending on the crime

In Ohio, it is possible to be licensed as a nurse even if you have a prior criminal background. However, there are certain crimes that are considered absolute bars to licensure and if convicted of one of these particular crimes, you will be permanently barred from ever being licensed as a nurse in the state of Ohio. Crimes that are an absolute bar to licensure include: Aggravated Murder, Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Felonious Assault, Kidnapping, Rape, Sexual Battery, Aggravated Robbery, Aggravated Burglary, Gross Sexual Imposition, and Aggravated Arson.

If you have a prior criminal history that does not include one of the absolute bars listed above, you may attend nursing school and apply for a license in Ohio. You will be required to inform your nursing school at the time of admission of your criminal history and the school can choose whether or not to admit you to their program based on the severity of the crime. However, each school has a different standard for their admission criteria. You should speak to the admissions director at the school prior to applying to determine if your prior criminal history would prevent you from entering the nursing program.

However, completion of a nursing program, even from an accredited nursing school, does not guarantee that you will be licensed as a nurse in Ohio. Even if you have not been convicted of one of the absolute bar listed above, you must disclose your conviction on the application for a nursing license in Ohio. The nursing board reviews all applications in detail and will decide on a case by case basis if they will grant you a license. In considering whether the Ohio Board of Nursing will issue you a license, they will consider factors such as your age at the time of the conviction, whether the conviction involved drugs or alcohol, whether you placed someone else’s life in danger, and whether the conviction involved a minor.

In addition, the Ohio Board of Nursing will not advise you in advance of you attending nursing school whether you will be granted a license. So, if you have a criminal conviction, you do run the risk of attending nursing school and not being licensed in Ohio or being licensed subject to disciplinary action. However, the Board will consider the individual facts in your case and if you have not been convicted of one of the absolute bars listed above, the Board has the authority to grant you a license.

For more information about seeking a license as a nurse in Ohio with a prior criminal history, go the following link at the Board’s website: http://www.nursing.ohio.gov/PDFS/Discipline/CriminalHistory.pdf

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please feel free to contact me at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.

If you received a Notice for Opportunity for Hearing .. request a hearing

On Friday, July 27, the Ohio Board of Nursing held its bi-monthly meeting. At that meeting, the Board voted to take disciplinary action against dozens of nurses in the state of Ohio. Nurses who face discipline by the Board will be mailed a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing, Notice of Summary Suspension or Notice of Automatic Suspension of their nursing license by certified mail.  This is not a final decision by the Board.  These Notices outline the charges that the Board has alleged against you.

If you receive notification from the post office that you have a certified letter from the Nursing Board, immediately go to the post office and collect the letter as there are important time sensitive deadlines which, if not met, can have a permanent effect on your license.

If you want the Board to hear “your side of the story” you must request a hearing in writing to request a hearing by the deadline in the Notice. This can be done by following the instructions in the Notice. A request for a hearing is a simple letter sent to the Board stating that you would like a hearing. You do not need to list your defenses or reasons why you want a hearing. You simply need to state in the letter that you would like a hearing.

You only have thirty (30) days from the date the Notice was MAILED to you to request a hearing.  The 30 day time frame starts on the date that the letter was mailed to you and not on the date that you received the letter. Failure to request a hearing will prevent you from providing any evidence on your behalf to the Board.

I am often asked “why should I even request a hearing … the Board has already made a determination.” This is not correct.  These Notices only list allegations raised against you.  While the Board has conducted an investigation prior to issuing the Notice, in most cases they have only considered one side of the evidence. By requesting a hearing you will be able to present your side of the story.

Even in cases where the nurse has violated the Ohio Nurse Practice Act, by presenting your side of the story and explaining what challenges you faced or what you were thinking when the error occurred, you increase the chances of getting a lighter sanction from the Board than if you simply do not even request a hearing.

You worked hard for your nursing license. There are always two sides to any story. If you receive a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing, a Notice of Summary Suspension, or a Notice of Immediate Suspension, request a hearing within the deadline and make sure the Board hears your side of the story before they make a final determination.

You should also consider hiring experienced legal counsel to defend you before the Nursing Board. When considering how to hire an attorney, check out my previous post on “How to Hire an Attorney”.  Your livelihood depends on you finding experienced legal counsel that you trust to help in your defense.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, feel free to contact me at (614) 486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.