North Dakota Agency Nurse Disciplinary Issues

As an agency nurse working through a nurse staffing agency in North Dakota, you may appreciate the flexibility and diversity that comes with being able to work on short-term or travel nursing assignments. Whether you spend weeks or months at a particular care facility, or provide short-term relief at an understaffed hospital or clinic, one thing you know for certain is that keeping your nursing license is essential to your career. That's why if a misconduct complaint is filed against you with the North Dakota Board of Nursing, it's important to take it seriously. Working with one of the experienced attorneys from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team will ensure that you understand what's happening at each step of the disciplinary process and that your rights are vigorously protected throughout. You can reach the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team by calling us at 888.535.3686 or by scheduling a confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Agency Nurses in North Dakota

The North Dakota Board of Nursing (BON) doesn't have specific license, registration, or certification requirements for agency or travel nurses working in the state that are different from those each nurse working in the state must meet. Agency nurses must pass the same tests and meet the same educational requirements as all other nurses. They must also meet the same continuing education requirements as every other nurse – generally 12 “contact hours” of approved continuing education credits during each two-year license period.

When it comes to professional discipline, however, agency nurses can find themselves in a more difficult position than nurses who are employed at a particular facility or position on a regular basis. For one, a misconduct investigation can be intrusive for both the nurse and their employer, and an agency nurse who is being investigated by the BON because of a misconduct complaint may find the BON contacting not only their present assignment location but past locations as well. It takes time and resources to respond to investigator questions or to locate and produce patient and business records that the BON may subpoena, and that can result in a decision not to use the agency nurse who is the target of the investigation. In cases where the agency nurse is eventually disciplined, and a condition of the discipline is that the nurse's employer supervises and periodically reports to the BON on the nurse's workplace activities, existing as well as future employers may prefer to work with nurses whose don't come with this additional administrative burden.

In cases where an agency nurse enrolls in the North Dakota BON's “Alternative to Discipline Program” for nurses suffering from a “physical, mental, or chemical dependency condition,” the nurse may face the same problem. If one condition of the nurse being allowed to return to work by the program is that a designated supervisor periodically reports back to the program about the nurse's progress, the employer may choose to work with nurses who do not come with this kind of additional supervision and reporting requirement.

The North Dakota Board of Nursing

Nurse licensing in North Dakota is the responsibility of the state's Board of Nursing (BON). The BON issues initial nursing licenses to nurses who have met the state's nursing education requirements, passed the NCLEX examination, and passed a nationwide criminal background check. The BON also licenses nurses who are already licensed in another state through the Nurse Licensure Compact. There are no separate license requirements for agency nurses or for nurse applicants who intend to work as agency or travel nurses.

Nurses must renew their licenses every two years and need to attest when they renew that they've met the BON's continuing education requirements for the particular type of nursing license that they hold.

Misconduct Registry for North Dakota Nurses

When a nurse is disciplined by the North Dakota BON and the form of discipline is a public one, the BON will make that information available on the “Public Notices” section of its website. Anyone with access to the Internet can review the periodic disciplinary notices published roughly six times each year and learn about disciplinary actions taken against individual nurses by the BON. Details of any specific disciplinary action can be learned by using the BON's “License/Permit Verification” portal and entering the nurse's license number as reported in the BON's Public Notice of their discipline.

Employers and staffing agencies typically have access to the license number for each of their nurses. This makes it relatively easy for an employer or nurse staffing agency to determine whether any particular nurse has been publicly disciplined by the BON. With Public Notices going back more than ten years, any public discipline against a nurse will remain publicly available for quite some time.

Certification as an Agency Nurse in North Dakota

North Dakota has no separate certification requirement for agency nurses. As noted, nurses who work as agency or travel nurses must meet North Dakota's nursing license requirement. The state's BON issues the following types of nurse licenses and certifications:

  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Registered Nurse
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

An APRN nurse can be certified in more than a dozen different specialties, including as a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, and nurse midwife.

As noted above, nurses can either be licensed for the first time by exam in North Dakota, or by “endorsement” based on their existing nursing license in another state, provided that state belongs to the Nurse Licensure Compact. And all nurses – whether applying by exam or by endorsement – must submit to a nationwide criminal background check and provide their fingerprints as part of that process.

Once a nurse is granted a license by the North Dakota BON, the nurse can accept any job – as an agency nurse or otherwise – provided they meet the job's licensing requirements.

North Dakota Board of Nursing Disciplinary Investigations

While anybody can file a misconduct complaint against a licensed nurse in North Dakota, the two main sources of complaints are patients or their family members, and employers or fellow employees. Licensed nurses are required by the BON to report instances where they believe another nurse is violating the state's Nursing Practices Act. The BON has an online complaint form that anyone with Internet access can use to file a complaint against a nurse. The BON notes that complaints filed anonymously “may result in an unopened investigation.”

The BON will review the complaint to make sure that the incident or situation that the complaint covers is one that the BON has the jurisdiction to investigate. Complaints about personality conflicts, for example, usually won't result in an investigation. The BON's focus is on whether the behavior that is alleged in the complaint violates North Dakota law or regulations relating to nursing practice.

A complaint that relates to a nurse's professional conduct will be investigated. The nurse will be notified of the complaint and will have a chance to submit a written response to the allegations. Investigations can take anywhere from several weeks to more than a year, depending entirely on the situation. When the investigation is complete, the investigator will submit a report to the BON's Compliance Advisory Council. The Council will decide whether the investigation supports bringing disciplinary action against the nurse. In cases where the Council decides that the evidence supports a finding that the nurse has violated the Nurse Practices Act, it may contact the nurse and discuss whether the matter can be settled with a consent agreement that discloses the facts of the violation and imposes a particular sanction against the nurse.

Where the nurse agrees to the proposed settlement, the matter will typically be resolved according to the proposed settlement terms once approved by the full BON. If the nurse does not agree to settle the matter, the BON will issue formal charges against the nurse, and the case will proceed to a hearing.

As soon as you learn that a misconduct complaint has been filed against you, it's in your interest to contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team to discuss your situation and how we can help protect your rights during the investigation process and any steps that may occur afterward. Our experienced attorneys can help you at each stage of what can be a very stressful and complicated process. Whether helping draft a complete and clear response to the misconduct complaint, preparing for your BON investigator interview, attending your interview to make sure you only answer clear, fair questions that you understand, negotiating with the BON, or defending yourself and your license at any hearing, the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you through the entire disciplinary process.

North Dakota Nurse Disciplinary Standards

Nurses in North Dakota are expected to follow broad standards designed to protect their patients and make sure that nurses practice competently and within the scope of their particular knowledge, expertise, and license level. Nurses at both the LPN and RN levels are expected to:

  • “Demonstrate honesty and integrity” in their practices
  • Make nursing decisions based on their “nursing knowledge and skills,” the patient's needs, and the nursing standards applicable to their particular type of license
  • Accept responsibility” for their judgments, nursing actions, competence levels, decisions, and behavior as nurses
  • Maintain competence” by continuing their nursing education
  • Report violations” of the Nurse Practices Act – whether their own or other nurses

APRNs also have their own practice standards on top of the standards that apply to registered nurses.

These general standards are ones that the North Dakota BON expects nurses at all levels to follow when providing patient care or otherwise working as nurses in the state. These same standards apply to agency nurses, of course.

There are a number of general types of situations that can result in the BON disciplining a nurse in North Dakota. These include:

  • Being arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any crime that “relates adversely to the practice of nursing”
  • Being disciplined by a board of nursing in another state
  • Engaging in practices “inconsistent with the standards of nursing practice”
  • Committing fraud in connection with securing their nursing license
  • Engaging in “professional misconduct
  • Stealing or diverting supplies, including drugs, from an employer
  • Failing to report their own or anyone else's violation of the Nurse Practices Act
  • Failing to cooperate with the BON, including during any misconduct investigation

Defending Yourself Against North Dakota BON Nurse Disciplinary Investigations

When the North Dakota BON is investigating you because of a misconduct complaint, you have a right to be advised and assisted by an attorney from the point you learn a complaint has been filed against you. It can be very stressful to have your professional work become the focus of a misconduct investigation, particularly if the process stretches out over many weeks or months. In addition to being interviewed yourself, your co-workers may also be interviewed, and places you've worked as an agency nurse over the time period covered by the complaint may be subpoenaed for patient and work records. Having an experienced license defense attorney at your side can help reduce the uncertainty and stress that comes with being investigated.

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understands how important your nursing license is to you and how your continued employment as an agency nurse depends on keeping your disciplinary record as clean as possible. We are here to protect your rights throughout the disciplinary process and will work diligently on your behalf to minimize the effect the investigation has on your life and your professional license.

Valuing Your North Dakota Nursing License

You, of course, know that without a nursing license, your work as an agency nurse will come to a quick halt. Not all discipline, however, results in a license being suspended or revoked. In some cases, the BON may allow a nurse to continue to practice, but their license will be placed on “Probation,” with restrictions – for example, requiring the nurse's employer to specially supervise the nurse and report periodically to the BON about the nurse's compliance with the disciplinary obligations imposed by the BON.

While this can make life difficult under the best of circumstances, when you're working as an agency nurse, it can mean employers will be less likely to accept you for assignments. In many cases, agency nurses are brought in to cover staffing shortages, and when bringing in an agency nurse also means assuming additional supervisory and reporting obligations, an employer will be less likely to accept that nurse. And in cases, such as home care, where there is no on-site supervision, agency nurses who are being disciplined may be unable to accept the position at all until the disciplinary requirements are lifted.

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understands the special needs that agency nurses have when it comes to keeping their professional records clear of disciplinary obligations that could make it more difficult for them to work. In addition to protecting your rights throughout the disciplinary process, we will work for you to protect your ability to work as an agency nurse.

Telling Your Side of the Story to North Dakota BON Investigators

When you've been accused of misconduct, a very natural reaction is to want to bring the matter to a quick end, perhaps by contacting the BON investigator to “clear the air” about “what really happened.” As much as we would like to say that this can be helpful, the fact remains that the BON investigators have an obligation to conduct a complete and thorough investigation of misconduct allegations, and your attempt to try to bring that investigation to a quick conclusion is unlikely to help. Even worse, depending on what you say, the investigator may believe that you're attempting to interfere with the process, which can result in additional disciplinary charges.

There are times during the investigation when it is appropriate for you to tell your side of what happened. One is when the BON asks you to respond in writing to the complaint that was filed against you; another is when you're interviewed by the BON investigator. Our experienced professional license defense attorneys can help you at both stages. We'll make sure your written response covers all of the points you want to make in a clear and understandable way. For your interview, we will prepare you for the unfamiliar situation of being interviewed by someone who is investigating you. We can also be there during the interview itself, making sure you only answer clear, fair questions that you understand, that your answers are understood by the investigator, and that you don't leave out any facts, you may have forgotten to include.

Allegations That Can Put Your Nursing License and Ability to Work as an Agency Nurse at Risk

North Dakota's Nursing Practices Act doesn't list every type of misconduct that can result in a nurse being disciplined. The BON has a lot of discretion to discipline nurses for many specific types of misconduct. Some typical examples of nurse misconduct include:

  • Working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Fraud, such as falsifying attendance records, or filing false insurance claims
  • Theft of supplies or drugs
  • Being convicted of a crime
  • Violating a BON order
  • Failing to cooperate with a BON investigation
  • Taking advantage of the relationship with the patient in an inappropriate way, for example, by accepting large gifts or favors from the patient
  • Abandoning a patient and neglecting to confirm that another nurse would be caring for them
  • Falsifying information on a patient's chart
  • Abuse – physical, sexual, or mental – of a patient

North Dakota's BON won't hesitate to investigate any situation where the care of a patient has allegedly been compromised by a nurse's actions.

What is the Disciplinary Process for North Dakota Agency Nurses?

The process for investigating agency nurses in North Dakota is the same as for a nurse employed in any other capacity. Because agency nurses may change job situations more often than other nurses, investigations that span more than one employment situation may take longer than with nurses who are permanently employed at the same location. As noted above, the BON will assign an investigator whose job will be to review the complaint and gather as much information about the alleged incident or incidents as possible. The steps of the process include the following:

  • A written response from the nurse named in the complaint
  • Interviews with the person who filed the complaint, the nurse named in the complaint, and any other individuals, such as relatives of the patient or the nurse's co-workers or supervisors, who may have information relevant to the allegations
  • Issuing subpoenas to the nurse's employer or employers during the time period covered by the complaint, typically for patient and work records

Once the investigation is complete, the BON investigator presents the results to the BON's Compliance Advisory Council. The council's job is to review the results and supporting evidence to determine if there are grounds to bring charges that the nurse has violated the Nurse Practices Act. If the council believes that a violation has occurred, it may elect to contact the nurse with a proposed resolution of the allegations. If the nurse declines to accept the proposed resolution, the council will then file formal charges against the nurse, which can then proceed to a disciplinary hearing.

North Dakota Agency Nurse Hearing Procedures

North Dakota nursing disciplinary hearings must follow the state's Administrative Agencies Practice Act. Hearings take place before an administrative law judge. There are specific requirements that both the BON and the nurse accused of misconduct must follow as part of this process. If the BON is moving forward with a disciplinary hearing against you, you will receive the complaint at least 45 days before the hearing is scheduled and will have 20 days to file your response to the complaint – or risk defaulting and having the allegations in the complaint entered as a ruling against you.

There may be prehearing conferences with the administrative law judge before the actual hearing date to discuss the identity of witnesses and the amount and types of evidence that may be introduced during the hearing. The North Dakota Rules of Evidence apply in administrative hearings, and both you and the BON can object to proposed evidence that fails to meet the state's evidentiary requirements. Both sides will have the opportunity to present witnesses to testify and will be able to cross-examine witnesses produced by the other side.

After the close of the hearing, the administrative law judge must issue a ruling that includes findings of fact, conclusions of law, the order based on those findings and conclusions. This ruling will be submitted to the BON as a recommendation; the BON will review it and will decide whether or not to accept the recommendation of the judge.

Appeals of Misconduct Findings After a Hearing

There are two options if the administrative law judge issues a ruling that you disagree with. You can petition the administrative law judge and ask that the judge reconsider the decision. Alternatively, or at the same time, you can appeal the BON's final decision on the judge's recommendation to the North Dakota District Court in Burleigh County. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has experience helping clients appeal adverse misconduct rulings, even in situations where we did not represent the client during the disciplinary investigation and hearing. We can help you evaluate whether or not a request for reconsideration or an appeal may be appropriate in your particular case; each situation is different, and when your license and career are on the line, it's important to carefully consider your options at each stage of the disciplinary process.

North Dakota BON Consent Agreements

As noted above, in many situations, disciplinary issues are resolved by consent without a hearing. Whether this is appropriate in your case depends heavily on the facts of your particular situation. The experienced attorneys from the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team can help you evaluate any offer you might receive from the BON to resolve a misconduct complaint without a hearing, and in many cases, we can negotiate those offers with an eye toward arriving at terms that will have as little impact as possible on your ability to work as an agency nurse in the state.

Why You Need an Agency Nurse Defense Attorney in North Dakota

North Dakota's nursing disciplinary standards and procedures are detailed and complicated. If a complaint is filed against you, you want to know that you fully understand what the charges are against you, what the standards are that you're expected to meet, what evidence the BON has against you to support the allegations, and what your options are in terms of resolving the matter in a way that will allow you to continue to practice as an agency nurse.

Your ability to sort through all of these issues will be considerably greater if you're advised by an attorney with experience helping other nurses and professional licensees navigate the disciplinary process. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has that experience, and our attorneys are ready to be by your side as your advisors and defenders throughout what can be a many months-long ordeal.

How an Agency Nurse Defense Attorney Helps in North Dakota

There are a number of ways that our experienced license defense attorneys can help nurses accused of misconduct in North Dakota. These include:

  • Conducting investigations on your behalf, to uncover helpful evidence missed by the BON investigator
  • Preparing you for your BON investigator interview
  • Advising you at your BON investigator interview, to make sure the questions are fair and understandable
  • Negotiating with the BON the potential terms of a consent agreement resolving allegations made against you
  • Defending you at a BON misconduct hearing
  • Preparing and filing appeals of adverse BON misconduct decisions

Trying to do all of this while also working as an agency nurse in North Dakota can be overwhelming, which is why it can be so helpful to retain the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team as soon as you learn that someone has filed a complaint against you.

The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help You Protect Your Nursing License in North Dakota

The experienced attorneys who make up the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understand the North Dakota laws, rules, and procedures that apply to nursing disciplinary proceedings in the state. We have helped nurses and medical professionals in North Dakota and all across the US defend themselves when misconduct claims are filed against them. We know that the work you do as an agency nurse absolutely depends on your nursing license, and we also know the ways that your position can be threatened by the terms of a disciplinary ruling against you. We are here to help you defend your right to continue to work when your license and job are threatened by a misconduct claim.

To learn more about how we can help, call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team today at 888.535.3686, or schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced license defense attorneys. We know how hard you've worked to earn your nursing license; let us help you keep it!


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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