The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help if Your Nurses License is in Jeopardy
Despite the path to becoming a nurse in Montana being difficult, it is an extremely rewarding career. You have gone through so much to get where you are, including years of education, clinical clerkships, and difficult licensing exams. This is why it can be incredibly jarring to learn you are being accused of misconduct. You may not know who to turn to or who you can trust.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for nurses to face disciplinary actions, and these issues can seriously derail your future. Like most professions, nurses have a long list of rules and responsibilities they must abide by, and the Montana Board of Nursing takes any accusations of misconduct very seriously, and any violation ruling can result in your license being revoked. Once a license is revoked, it is very difficult to have it reinstated. This is especially true if you have a multistate license through the Nursing License Compact.
When nurses are facing claims of misconduct, it is crucial they reach out to an attorney-advisor who can help. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will work to gather relevant evidence and witness testimony to support your defense, ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us at 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.
Below you will find the information you need to navigate these proceedings.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Montana
In Montana, there are several types of licenses for nurses, including licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). Those with a CNA (certified nursing assistants) cannot pursue a nursing license in Montana.
To receive an LPN or RN license in Montana, nurses must either have a nursing license in another state already or take and pass the corresponding NCLEX exam. Both licenses must be renewed every other year by paying $100.00 and completing 24 hours of continuing education hours.
The APRN license is more complex, requiring registered nurses to have additional certifications in one of the following areas:
- Nursing Practitioner (CNP)
- Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Additionally, APRNs must also either have a current Montana RN license or have a valid multistate license and have passed the requisite examinations and courses to receive this license. The only accepted exams are the ones offered by one of the following certifying bodies:
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
- American Midwifery Certification Board
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetist
- Pediatric Nurse Certification Board
- National Certification Corporation
Like LPNs and RNs, APRNs must renew their license every other year and complete 24 hours of continuing education. Unlike the other licenses, though, APRNs must pay $50.00 for every certification they are renewing and can add new certifications for $75.00. If you fail to have your continuing education units completed before your renewal date, and your license lapses, you are at risk of losing your license altogether. An attorney-advisor will be able to reach out to the Board and negotiate at on your half. They will attempt to resolve the issue prior and reinstate your license or extend your renewal window without a hearing proceedings. Call theLento Law Firm today.
Nursing License Compact in Montana
The Nursing License Compact (NLC) was developed in 2000 to try and improve how nurses receive their licenses and the standards they must abide by to keep their license. In 2018, this compact was improved to include standards the original was lacking – like enforcing criminal background checks and fingerprinting. The Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC) has now been adopted by forty states, twenty-four of which were part of the original NLC agreement. Eight other states are awaiting to adopt legislation before joining the eNLC. The only states that have decided to not join the eNLC, or were unsuccessful at passing legislation to join, are: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Mariana Islands, Nevada, and Oregon.
The goal of the eNLC is to improve access to healthcare, reduce costs to insurance companies, hospitals, and patients, and provide better healthcare to patients and their families. This type of license allows any nurses to transition between states that are members of the compact without having to waste time, which is especially helpful for travel nurses who transfer from state to state often. It also decreases the cost of application fees and license renewals because nurses won't have to update more than one license (unless their secondary state is not part of the compact). This means that if you lose your multistate license in Montana, you will be unable to relocate and begin working in a new state. You deserve to be able to use the license you've invested in to continue your career. Don't let the possibility of losing your license stop every aspect of your life in it's tracts.
How to Qualify for an eNLC
To qualify for an eNLC license, the nurse must:
- Have complete the requirements for licensure in the state they claim residency in;
- Have graduated from a board-approved education program or from an international education program that's been approved by the authorized accrediting body in that country and verified by an independent review agency;
- Have passed an English proficiency exam;
- Have passed the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN exam or a predecessor exam;
- Has an unencumbered license or is eligible for one;
- Has undergone state and federal fingerprinting and a criminal background check;
- Has a valid Social Security number;
- Is not a participant in an alternative program; and
- Is willing to self-disclose their participation in an alternative licensing program.
Sometimes, nursing license applicants, or nurses looking to renew their license, will be unable qualify for the eNLC because there is an issue with one of the above factors. For instance, if the nurse writes down their Social Security number but inverts to of the numbers, they will be prevented from receiving their license and could be disciplined for "fraudulently" trying to apply for a license under someone else Social Security number. Working with the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will ensure you are not subject to such silly mistakes that could have huge ramifications.
Even though nearly 70% of nurses approve of the compact license, there are still some states that continue to push back against it. Their major concerns are that they won't be able to properly oversee and manage disciplinary proceedings and that it could result in a loss of state revenue for new single-state licensees, may affect patient privacy, and could impact the growth of telemedicine and telenursing.
To combat these issues, the eNLC encourages nurses to sign up for Nursys, which is an e-notification system that sends updates about the nurses' licenses, including expiration information, renewal requirements, and disciplinary actions.
Nursys also helps individuals and states verify whether a nursing license is valid or not. If the license is invalid or fraudulent, states can use the information in Nursys to initiate and review disciplinary actions against the accused nurse. Moreover, this notification system will allow Attorney-advisor Lento and his team to review similar cases in Montana and other compact licensure states. By getting more information on past arguments and Board decisions, Attorney-advisor Lento will be able to craft a strategic - and specific - defense that addresses every point of the Board's argument.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License at Risk?
As we explained above, nursing licenses are subject to several types of restrictions, including professional and ethical conduct regulations. For instance, nurses must incorporate certain behaviors into their working conduct, like identifying themselves with a name badge that discloses their first name, the first initial of their last name, and the type of license they have. Moreover, this name badge must, at the minimum, be written in standard boldface 18-point font.
If a nurse is accused of violating one of these regulations, they run the risk of having their license revoked by the Montana Board of Nursing. Such allegations might include:
- Purposeful and/or consistent violations of the board's rules or statutes.
- City, state, or federal law violations.
- Violating state or federal statutes while practicing or attempting to practice nursing.
- Misrepresenting yourself as a nurse in a medical or nursing home facility.
- Using alcohol or addictive drugs while on the job in a way that it impairs your ability to work.
- Using drugs or medications that have been prescribed for patients.
- Selling or fraudulently using a nursing diploma, license, or record.
- Practicing nursing with a fake nursing diploma, license, or record.
- Practicing nursing while your license is suspended, revoked, or inactive.
- Teach a nursing course or school without board approval.
- Criminal convictions - particularly those that involve drugs or crimes of moral turpitude (i.e., the intent to cause great bodily harm, to defraud someone, or to permanently deprive someone of their property, etc.)
- Verbally abusing or neglecting a patient.
- Physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing colleagues, hospital staff, or patients or their families.
- Mishandling hospital or medical facility drugs.
- Failing to utilize appropriate judgment when administering safe nursing practices based on their level of nursing education.
- Failing to use technical competence while providing care.
- Failing to follow the hospital's policies or procedures.
- Violating the patient's safety, dignity, or right to privacy.
- Performing procedures that are beyond the scope they are authorized to provide.
- Altering or manipulating drug supplies or narcotics.
- Altering or manipulating patient records.
- Posting patient information on the internet or social media channels.
- Diverting medication for any reason.
- Falsifying patient records.
- Intentionally charting incorrectly or failing to chart.
- Intentionally acting in a way that adversely affects the physical or psychological welfare of the patient.
- Delegating responsibilities to individuals who are not licensed.
- Leaving your nursing assignment without permission.
- Not complying with your contract's provisions.
- Refusing to sign for or accept certified mail from the board office.
- Not complying or cooperating with the Department of Labor and Industry's investigation.
- Failing to report to the board within 30 days of the date of final judgment.
It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive. Hiring an attorney-advisor and an experienced professional license defense team is the best way to ensure you are fully prepared for whatever allegation the board throws at you. Call the Lento Law Firm today.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Nurses Montana?
When formal complaints are filed with the Montana Board of Nursing, the board will follow the procedures outlined by the NCSBN board of nursing because they are part of the eNLC. Initially, they will review the complaint to determine if they have jurisdiction over it. Generally, the board will have jurisdiction over complaints involving practice-related issues, drugs, boundary violations, fraud, sexual misconduct, criminal background checks, and abuse.
Once the board determines they have jurisdiction over the matter, they will then initiate an investigation into the matter to see if there is any preliminary evidence to support the allegation. During this investigation, they will reach out to the accused nurse for a formal statement. If they determine there is enough preliminary evidence, they will pursue disciplinary action against the nurse.
The Montana nursing board will review the allegation, the nurse's formal statement, and any preliminary evidence and determine whether to file a formal complaint. Once a formal complaint is filed, the board will schedule a settlement conference or an administrative hearing.
Settlement conferences are usually used in cases where there is substantial evidence against the nurse. And administrative hearings are used to resolve the complaint and allow the nurse a chance to present a defense and potentially protect her license from being lost.
At the administrative hearing, prosecuting attorneys will present their case to the board. Then the nurse or their attorney will present a defense to the prosecution's argument, which will include presenting evidence and witness testimony that supports their defense. After both sides have been heard fully, the board will determine whether the nurse is, in fact, responsible for the alleged violation. If they find that they are, they will impose specific sanction on the nurse. Sanctions can range from probation to suspension and revocation.
In some cases, a nurse will opt for an alternative to discipline program. Usually, these programs are for substance use disorders.
Some nursing licenses can be reinstated after being lost. For instance, if an applicant lost their nursing license or had it suspended because they were involved in criminal convictions that had to do with the sale or use of drugs or alcohol, substance use disorder, or chemical dependency, the Montana Board of Nursing may be able to issue them a license if:
- They have satisfied all conditions of their court-ordered sanctions, and they were not subject to a finding of chemical dependency or substance use disorder. OR
- If they were subject to a finding of chemical dependency or substance use disorder, and they completed all the treatment requirements five years prior to applying for their license, or they completed all of Montana's (or any other state or jurisdiction's) monitoring requirements, and they have not had any criminal charges or legal interventions in the last five years.
If the Board refuses to grant you a license in Montana, the Nurses Assistant Program (NAP) will review the applications again and
- Seek additional documentation;
- Have the applicant sit for assessments and evaluations; and
- Provide recommendations and rationale to the board about the applicant's suitability for the NAP alternative track or the need for further assessments or evaluation for substance use disorder, chemical dependency, or mental health issues.
Additionally, if the license was suspended, it must be renewed by filing a renewal application and paying the applicable fees by the specified date, or it will be lost completely. The same is true for licenses that are terminated, though the board's sanctions may include a stipulation that a new license cannot be applied for in some cases. Having the advice of the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will ensure you are fully aware of the stakes prior to pursuing your defense.
Medical Facilities in Montana
There are several medical facilities in Montana that the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can serve, including:
- Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula
- Billings Clinic in Billings
- Advanced Care Hospital of Montana in Billings
- Barrett Hospital and Healthcare in Dillon
- Benefis Health System in Great Falls
- Big Horn Hospital in Hardin
- Big Sandy Medical Center in Big Sandy
- Bitterroot Health-Daly Hospital in Hamilton
- Blackfeet Community Hospital in Saint Mary
- Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center in Big Sky
- Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman
- Broadwater Health Center in Townsend
- Cabinet Peaks Medical Center in Libby
- Central Montana Medical Center in Lewistown
- Community Hospital of Anaconda in Anaconda
- Crow-Northern Cheyenne Hospital in Crow Agency
- Dahl Memorial Healthcare in Ekalaka
- Fallon Medical Complex in Baker
- Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow
- Garfield County Health Center in Jordan
- Granite County Medical Center in Philipsburg
- Great Falls Clinic Hospital in Great Falls
- Holy Rosary Healthcare in Miles City
- Livingston Healthcare in Livingston
- Logan Health in Conrad, Cut Bank, Kalispell, Shelby and Whitefish
- McCone County Health Center in Circle
- Mineral Community Hospital in Superior
- Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton
- Montana VA Health Care System in Fort Harrison
- Mountainview Medical Center in Sulphur Springs
- Northern Montana Hospital in Havre
- Phillips County Hospital in Malta
- Pioneer Medical Center in Big Timber
- Poplar Community Hospital in Poplar
- Prairie County Hospital in Terry
- Roosevelt Medical Center in Culbertson
- Rosebud Health Care Center in Forsyth
- SCL Health MT-St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings
- SCL Health St. James Healthcare in Butte
- Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Plentywood
- Shodair Children's Hospital in Helena
- Trinity Hospital in Wolf Point
- Wheatland Memorial Healthcare Harlowton
Additionally, the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can help nurses working in private practices, home care settings, and community medical centers.
Montana Board of Nursing License Revocations in the Past
Throughout the years, there have been several instances where the Montana Board of Nursing has had to suspend or revoke a nurse's license. For example, in March of 2023, a Missoula nurse at St. Patrick Hospital was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to operating an opiate scheme.
Apparently, in 2021, a hospital official reviewed the drug distribution data and saw that the defendant was ordering large quantities of opiates more often than other nurses. When she was confronted by the hospital, she admitted that she had been stealing drugs for over a year. So not only was her nursing license revoked for the incident, but she was also sentenced to criminal probation, which can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences on the defendant's life moving forward.
Additionally, in July 2020, two Mount Carmel nurses had their licenses suspended for one year after being tied to a patient dosing scandal. In this scandal, the attending physician was under investigation for providing suffering patients with high doses of opiates – allegedly to help ease their discomfort. The nurses supposedly helped the physician carry out his plan.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help
When you are accused of violating the Montana Board of Nursing's regulations or conduct rules, it is crucial you reach out to a skilled attorney-advisor as soon as possible. Nursing license adjudications are serious and complex proceedings that require a strong defense. If you are not sufficiently prepared to defend yourself, it is unlikely you will be successful, and your license could be lost.
You have worked so hard to get where you are, and having your license stripped could cause several serious consequences, such as taking a pay cut to get another job, relocating to find better work, or forfeiting your ability to work in your desired field for the rest of your life. Moreover, depending on the accusations, you could be subjected to criminal charges as well, which will have even more severe ramifications, like probation, federal sentencing, and parole specifications.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has spent years helping nurses defend themselves against complaints. They understand the complications these proceedings present and have the unique legal skillset to create strategic defenses which are sure to guarantee the best possible outcome. If you have been accused of violating your state's nursing license regulations, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686, or schedule a consultation online.