In Alaska, professional licenses, including nursing licenses, are subject to certain professional and ethical regulations. To ensure nurses are abiding by these regulations, the Alaska Board of Nursing oversees the renewal process and implements disciplinary proceedings when necessary. Whenever a nurse is found responsible for violating one of these regulations, the Board is charged with placing conditions or restrictions on the nursing license, suspending, or revoking it altogether.
It is important to recognize that any kind of disciplinary punishment on your nursing license can greatly affect your current career and future prospects. Not only could it prevent you from keeping your job, but it could also force you to uproot and transition your entire life. This is why working with an experienced professional license defense attorney-advisor is so important. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has spent years helping professionals protect their licenses from unnecessary and harsh sanctions. Call our offices today for help.
Alaska Board of Nursing License Proceedings
The Alaska Board of Nursing is committed to protecting the health and safety of the citizens of Alaska by ensuring the safe and effective practice of nursing. To ensure their citizens are protected, they are quick to discipline nurses who allegedly violate the state-mandated regulations and standards. For example, if a nurse is accused of practicing nursing with an unlawfully issued diploma, the Board will investigate the issue and, if they find enough evidence to prove the nurse responsible, not only take their license away but also report the issue to local law enforcement as it is considered a class B misdemeanor.
Alaska's Nursing Statutes stipulate how the Board is organized and how it will manage nursing professionals. In addition, it outlines the specific rules that nurses are supposed to follow if they want to stay in good standing with the Board. Unfortunately, statutes like these are incredibly verbose and difficult to access, which can prevent nurses from understanding the rules and regulations they must follow while practicing in the state of Alaska. If nurses are unaware of the prohibited activities that can get them in trouble, how are they supposed to defend themselves from such accusations appropriately?
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understand how confusing this can be for nurses, particularly newer nurses. As such, they will review the regulations and figure out which one your alleged conduct violated. They will use this information to create a strategic defense on your behalf. It should also be said that sometimes the Board lacks the funds to fully investigate complaints against a nurse prior to bringing charges or punishments. To combat this lack of due process, it is crucial you reach out to an attorney-advisor for help.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Alaska
Alaska offers nursing applicants the option of applying for a Licensed practical nurse (LPN) license, a registered nurse (RN) license, and an advanced practical registered nurse (APRN) license. Each of these licenses requires different coursework, continuing education, and fees to be valid. If you are unable to pass their exams, renew on time, or complete the requisite continuing education units, you will not be able to practice nursing in the state of Alaska. Additionally, if you fail to renew or are accused of violating the regulations and are sanctioned with a condition or restriction that is not met at the time of renewal, you will be forced to endure a disciplinary hearing and could have your license revoked completely.
No matter the accusations against you, they can affect your future in ways you can't even imagine now. Besides being prevented from working in Alaska as a nurse, you could be prevented from practicing nursing in other states as well. Moreover, you could be required to pay fines, take random drug tests, or complete several counseling sessions. The Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team has unmatched experience protecting nurses from such a future. If you would like to avoid having your freedom restricted, call the Lento Law Firm today.
Nursing License Compact in Alaska
Alaska is one of over 40 states to have joined the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) created the eNLC in 2018 after creating the initial National Licensure Com[act in the early 2000s. To create a more robust - enhanced - licensure standard, the NCSBN reviewed every state's conduct, educational requirements, and licensing costs. The hope was that by having a cohesive standard, there would be less confusion about the regulations and conduct requirements.
The eNLC is especially helpful for travel nurses who move from state to state to complete temporary nursing contracts. Now, they can cross state lines to practice nursing without having to pursue a new license first. This kind of flexibility allows patients access to greater healthcare and helps hospitals, insurance companies, and patients lower their expenditures.
The critics of the eNLC believe that it will prevent their states from collecting the same revenue total that they would from single-state licenses. They also believe the compact itself is influencing the growth of telemedicine and telenursing practices, as well as impeding the state's ability to manage disciplinary issues and affecting patient privacy.
To combat the critics' negative comments, the NCSBN created Nursys. Nursys is an online database and notification system that informs nurses of when their licenses need to be renewed and helps states validate licenses. For instance, if a nurse in Alaska is accused of being under the influence of illegal drugs while providing patient care, the Alaska Board of Nursing can use Nursys to look up their license and use what they find to initiate an investigation.
While having a multistate license can greatly impact your career for the better, it can negatively affect you if you are accused of violating one of the state's regulations and conduct rules. The Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team will be able to prevent the accusations from one state from impacting your license in another state. Working with attorney-advisor Lento the moment you learn of these accusations will ensure you are not being unnecessarily punished in multiple states.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License at Risk?
In the Alaska Nursing Statutes, the government specifies the regulations and conduct rules that nurses practicing in the state must follow if they want to keep practicing in the state. According to these regulations, nurses must avoid the following conduct:
● Fraudulently or deceitfully getting or attempting to get a nursing license.
● Getting convicted of a felony or other crime if those convictions are substantially related to the duties, functions, or qualifications of the nurse.
- Abusing alcohol or using controlled substances habitually.
- Impersonating a registered, advanced practice registered, or practical nurse.
- Intentionally or negligently acting in a way that results in a large risk to the health or safety of a patient or injury to a patient.
- Practicing or attempting to practice while physically or mentally ill, deteriorating, or disabled in a way that interferes with their ability to perform nursing functions.
- Being guilty of unprofessional conduct, like failing to maintain patient confidentiality, abandoning or neglecting a patient who requires immediate care, or physically, sexually, or emotionally abusing patients, their families, the hospital, or other staff members.
- Willfully or repeatedly violating the Nursing Statutes.
- Being professionally incompetent.
- Denying care or treatment to a person seeking help.
- Prescribing or dispensing opioids over the maximum dose authorized.
- Procuring, selling, prescribing, or dispensing drugs whether or not there has been a criminal action or the patient was harmed.
When a nurse is accused of violating one of these regulations or rules, the Board has the right, according to the Nursing Statutes, to adjudicate the issue and, if necessary, punish the nurse. Punishments might include one of the following:
- Giving the nurse a letter of reprimand.
- Putting limitations or conditions on the nurse's ability to practice.
- Imposing a peer review, professional education requirement, or probation on the nurse.
- Accepting a voluntary surrender of their license.
- Permanently revoking a nursing license or permit.
- Suspending a license.
- Censuring a license.
Working with Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team will ensure you understand the accusations being lodged against you, as well as the sanctions being imposed. If the Lento Law Firm believes the sanctions to be too severe or the accusations unfounded, they will reach out to the Board for further negotiations.
Additionally, though the Board has the power to punish certain sanctions, that may not be the end of the matter. The Nursing Statutes gives the Board the power to refer all matters to local or federal law enforcement for further criminal or civil investigation. The following conduct is considered a class B misdemeanor and will be referred to law enforcement:
- Practicing nursing under a fake nursing school transcript, diploma, license, or record.
- Practicing nursing under a school transcript, diploma, license, or record that was unlawfully obtained, signed, or issued.
- Working as a nurse without a license.
- Using a designation with your name that makes others believe you are licensed when you don't have a license.
- Practicing nursing while your license is suspended or revoked, unless done knowingly and intentionally – then it is considered a class A misdemeanor.
- Practicing nursing when you know your license has lapsed.
- Teaching a nursing program and implying that it is Board accredited when it hasn't been, unless done knowingly and intentionally – then it is considered a class A misdemeanor.
There are also cases where patients or their families believe a nurse conducted themselves inappropriately or failed to provide adequate care and decided to pursue a civil suit against them. Whether you are facing a civil suit, criminal charge, or Board, No matter what happens after the initial complaint, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help. They will guide you through the disciplinary proceedings and use what they have learned to leverage a solid defense for any criminal charges or civil suits, ensuring you the best possible outcome.
Exemptions to Nursing Statutes in Alaska
The Nursing Statutes in Alaska also define which nurses and other individuals are exempt from disciplinary charges, including:
- Qualified nurses who are licensed in another state and employed by the U.S. government while performing their duties in Alaska.
- Providing temporary nursing services during an emergency, epidemic, or disaster.
- Practicing nursing as a student enrolled in a nursing program if the actions are related to their studies.
- Practicing nursing with a license in another state while offering nursing consulting services or engaging in nursing education, as long as the contact with their patients is for less than 20 working days.
- Practicing nursing with a license from another state when their responsibilities include bringing patients into and out of Alaska, unless the actions would exceed 48 hours per transport.
It is not uncommon for nursing boards to miss exemptions like these and continue to press violations against a nurse. By hiring an attorney-advisor who is skilled in defending nurses from licensing sanctions, you can rest assured that they will catch such an issue and bring it to the Board's attention prior to it having a negative effect on your career. Call the Lento Law Firm today to make sure your rights are protected.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Alaska Nurses?
Like other states, the Alaska Board of Nursing charges every person in the state with the right to file a complaint against a nurse practicing in Alaska. The complaints are supposed to allege a violation of a specific statute or regulation and provide detailed summaries of the supposed misconduct. The witness is also supposed to provide any evidence or documentation they might have of the incident in their complaint.
Once the complaint is received, the Board's investigators review the complaint and the evidence and determine if they have jurisdiction over the matter. If they do, they will determine if the complaint does, in fact, allege a violation and whether it should be pursued. When the Board determines whether they have control over this issue, they will send a letter to the nurse in question and explain the allegations being filed against them. The letter will also request records, an interview, and other responses from the nurse. Having Attorney-advisor Lento on your side the moment you are notified is the best way to ensure you respond to the request and complaint appropriately.
After the investigators have gathered relevant information or evidence to prove or disprove the alleged violation, the Chief Investigator will review the matter and other experts if necessary. They will decide how to proceed, which might include a recommendation for more information to be obtained, for the case to be closed, or that the case must continue. They will not determine guilt or innocence. They only determine whether the accusations are supported by uncontested or sufficient evidence and it warrants disciplinary action even though the nurse is contesting it.
In cases where the complaint is supported by evidence, it will proceed to an official investigation by the Division on behalf of the Board. In general, most cases are resolved through a Consent Agreement, which is a settlement that does not require a public hearing. Instead, the parties agree to disciplinary action and this allows both parties to leave feeling like they were able to find a more balanced resolution. Potential disciplinary actions associated with the Consent Agreement might include a reprimand, license revocation, probation, suspension, a civil penalty, a continuing education requirement, or license restrictions.
If, on the other hand, an agreement cannot be reached with the accused nurse, the case is referred to the Assistant Attorney General (AAG). The AAG will review it and determine if the nurse is entitled to a hearing or if a settlement is more appropriate. If the AAG and the nurse cannot reach a settlement, the AAG will schedule an administrative hearing. During the hearing, both sides will have the chance to present evidence and witness testimony to support their arguments. Once the hearing ends, the Office of Administrative Hearings will determine whether to amend the Board's decision, adopt the decision, or reject it entirely and issue their own decision. Whatever decision they make, if the nurse disagrees with it, can only be appealed to the Superior Court and not the Board.
A lot of nurses believe they can defend themselves from such misconduct allegations. Unfortunately, they misjudge how prepared they should be for these proceedings and are unsuccessful in their defenses. Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional Defense Team have years of experience helping nurses defend themselves from losing their licenses and will use this comprehensive knowledge to help you avoid any unnecessary punishments.
Why You Need a Nursing License Defense Attorney in Alaska
Many times, the Board discovers that complaints against nurses are unfounded or unsupported by evidence but continue to pursue a case anyway. When this happens, it can have disastrous effects on your ability to continue practicing in the community.
Additionally, all citizens have the right to certain things when they are accused of violating a regulation, such as the right to counsel, the right to face their accuser, and the right to defend themselves against accusations. Thus if the Board fails to provide these rights to you during the adjudication process, including the investigation phase, their final decision could be invalidated by the Superior Court, which might also result in them being sanctioned.
This is why getting the help of a qualified attorney-advisor is so important for your case. Not only will Attorney-advisor Lento be able to help guide you through the proceedings, but he and his team will also make sure the Board upholds your due process rights.
The Nature of Alaska Board of Nursing Charges
Alaska Board of Nursing decisions are different from criminal convictions or civil penalties, which would be implemented by state or federal law enforcement and the court system. But, as we explained above, there are certain instances when the Board can refer the issue to state or federal law enforcement for further review. When that happens, you could not only lose your nursing license in Alaska; you could also incur fines, restitution for damages, and jail or prison sentences. Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will contact law enforcement and review the accusations to determine how to proceed in their negotiations and defense.
How Lento Law Firm Professional Licensing Defense Team Can Help
Most nurses do not expect to be accused of misconduct or other regulation violations, which is why it is so overwhelming when it happens. It can be confusing to try and figure out how to defend yourself or who you can turn to for help. But it is crucial you put everything you have into defending the career you have worked so hard to achieve.
Attorney-advisor Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team know you have spent years studying and pursuing this career and do not want you to lose it because of a lack of preparedness. Moreover, they know that losing your license in Alaska can greatly affect your other licenses if you have a multistate license and your ability to get a license in a new state if you move. They will help you tell your story and defend yourself in a way that is sure to guarantee the best possible outcome for your case. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.