I survived the Board of Nursing

I have been a nurse for over 30 years. I was working as a Nursing Director for a non-profit organization supporting adults with intellectual disabilities. I had worked there for several years but the stress was taking its toll, so I decided to move on to something less stressful. A full two months after I left, I received a letter from the board of nursing stating that there was a complaint against my license. Nurses Professionalism Article


Where do I begin? I have been following this site for years and it has been a source of both comfort and anxiety. The following describes my ordeal handling a complaint against my nursing license.

I was almost physically sick as I read page after page of allegations of neglect, poor judgment, failure to follow nursing standards -the list went on. To be honest I could not believe what I was reading, much less begin to understand where all this was coming from. Many of the complaints were about areas that I was not even responsible for. The letter gave me 10 days to respond to the allegations. My first instinct was to get a lawyer; I let my husband talk me out of it. He was convinced, as I was, that I simply had to respond to the allegations and they would go away. HOW WRONG I WAS!! Foolishly I thought that if I simply explained what really happened the situation would be resolved.

I submitted my carefully crafted response and waited for the board to exonerate me. After four months with no response, I contacted the board to find out what the status of the complaint was. After some transfers, I was informed by the board's lawyer that they were moving forward with disciplinary action. I did not know what to say or do - I was in complete shock. I managed to ask what recourse I would have, I was told that I would be able to request a settlement hearing once I was formally notified of my charges. I immediately contacted a lawyer. BEST MOVE I MADE. She carefully reviewed the information and submitted a letter to the board that all further communication was to come through her. I then sat and waited for nine long months for the formal charges. I prayed, worried, stressed, and cried my way through those months. If it had not have been for the support of my husband I would not have made it through the whole ordeal.

Finally, I received an email outlining the charges - all eleven of them. I was devastated, but once I got myself together I sat down and carefully read them. Charge, after charge I had clear evidence to refute. I contacted my lawyer who had already requested a settlement hearing. I went over the charges and my evidence to refute the charges. She spent two days carefully crafting a response to each allegation and attaching supporting evidence.

The settlement hearing came a month later - I can't explain how I felt looking into the faces of the board members and explaining complaint after complaint. I was an exemplary nurse, who had never had a bad report or performance evaluation and here I was practically begging for my license.

The board had not conducted ANY type of investigation, had not contacted my former employer, requested records, or interviewed me -NOTHING! It took all of 30 minutes and I was dismissed to wait for their decision.

Later that afternoon, I got the best phone call from my lawyer, all charges were dropped - case closed. That's it - it was finally over. Needless to say this has left a bad taste in my mouth. The board could just as easily have taken my livelihood away from me without doing their due diligence. Looking back I am so disappointed in an entity that supposedly is in place to protect the public yet failed to conduct a proper investigation on allegations that turned out be completely false.

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.
3ringnursing said:
That is a frightening experience. I'm so happy you were exonerated, but you sure worked hard to get there. I'm sure you had many sleepless nights.

It's scary that could happen to any one of us, and the burden of proof is on our shoulders, not the other way around. The very thought makes me shiver right down to my toenails.

A coworker said something in passing once I will never forget: the SBON exists to protect the public, not nurses.

You've also convinced me to pick up some malpractice insurance ASAP.

Also, I've been told in the past that the hospital you work for will have to cover Nurses if/when a patient sues...NOT always the circumstance as you also have to have protection from the hospital itself as many a nurse has been "thrown under the bus" by the very hospital they work for. Especially when they know full well that they are having us work under very precarious circumstances. They will be the first ones to protect themselves at your expense.

This information has been an eye opener. The right to formative information is essential. The one filing the complaint is protected-or else it is a violation of their rights. My experience with internal investigations have been you never know who filed the complaint and have little to go on until the investigation is done. It can be demoralizing. My experience is the best way to be prepared-lawyer!

Specializes in Open Heart Recovery, Trauma/Burn, Tele.

Thank you so much for this valuable post. I think it's vital to either retain or get advice from a lawyer anytime your license/practice is called into question by the Board. This is definitely something you cannot mess around with.

Specializes in IMC, school nursing.

A lot of people think the BON exists for nurses, that could not be further from the truth. Unlike the medical board, the nursing board takes a guilty until proven innocent in all cases and really doesn't need to prove you did wrong. The BON in almost every state exists to save the public from bad nurses and your license and your life are last on their lists of concerns. Some states are more forgiving in the restoration process, but all will cause you pain, even if you are innocent. Just an FYI

It does seem like the medical board tries to work with the doctors more than our boards do with nurses.

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.
Garden,RN said:
It does seem like the medical board tries to work with the doctors more than our boards do with nurses.

I don't know about this...? I have a friend who is a Medical Director. He has told me stories similar to ours...probably depends on the state. Don't know. But paramedics, LVNs, Chiropractors, have the same non-binding arbitration in my state. Not right...


Thank you for sharing. What a traumatic experience!

I was on the fence about carrying , key word "was." One of the best things about this site is getting insights from peers; we don't always have time (or inclination) to share in person. That's the best thing about this AN place.

Specializes in BSN, RN-BC, NREMT, EMT-P, TCRN.

Sorry to hear this happened, but glad about the outcome. As for personal liabilty insurance- GET IT. Why? It's just like a homeowner's warranty policy. If something breaks, the manufacturer's warranty might be obsolete, or you get told it's not covered. Don't assume that your employer will represent you. In nursing school, I asked some of my seasoned instructors about it. "Oh, your employer will cover you." And I asked what happens if I get sued as a nursing student? The responses were (You operate under my license" (DUH! But that doesn't answer the question), or "you're covered by the university or the hospital". Really? I wasn't EMPLOYED by the hospital as a student and nowhere was there any mention of legal representation when I enrolled in nursing school.

It's so sad that a good veteran nurse can be prejudged and destroyed so easily. Do they have enough staff? Well I had to face them for a license past 2 days. I drove there in person and paid gave them ceu's and they still made me wait 2 weeks! I felt this tall "." and unappreciated for 30 plus years without seeing them (bon). Thank God you made it, but yeah you'll never forget the treatment.

Well yes, I am sure it is not easy either for them. As far as I can tell our government has taken off with health care and turned it into a mess.

Specializes in Cardiac surgery, Adult ED, HEDIS.

Good Lord! Who went after you? Really, are you surprised that the board did not execute their job, by doing their own investigation? I have found in life, whoever gets to tell their story 1st, just has to be the one telling the truth....NOT:no: