The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help if You Are at Risk of Losing Your Wyoming Nursing License
Becoming a nurse in Wyoming can be a very difficult path to follow, but it is also considerably rewarding. Most people who become nurses do so out of a need to provide care to patients and watch people heal. With so many tests, applications, and extracurriculars to get where you are, it can be incredibly overwhelming if you are accused of any type of misconduct - especially if it puts your nursing license at risk.
Nursing licenses, like most professional licenses, are subject to a whole host of ethical and professional regulations. The Wyoming State Board of Nursing oversees Wyoming nursing licenses and is quick to resolve any accusations of misconduct. If your license is revoked, it is very hard to have it reinstated and continue your career in nursing. Any type of disciplinary action, then, can seriously impede your future, and this is especially true if you hold a compact nursing license in Wyoming and other states.
Unfortunately, many nurses are faced with disciplinary proceedings and do not know how to defend themselves. This is why it is so important to reach out to a Professional License Defense Team who will be able to not only help you understand the proceedings but also help you gather evidence and witness testimony to support your defense. Contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team at 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.
Below we will discuss the most common issues surrounding nursing licenses in Wyoming and how to navigate any disciplinary proceedings you might be required to participate in.
Types of Nursing Licenses in Wyoming
In Wyoming, there are five distinct nursing licenses, including certified nursing assistants (CNA), licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRN).
While CNAs do not receive a license, they must obtain a certification to be able to work in a licensed nursing care facility and swing beds within Wyoming. To receive their certification, they must complete a Verification of Certification form, pass the written and skills exam, and pay a $60 application fee plus a $60 criminal background check fee. The same is true if you are transferring a current CNA certification from another state to Wyoming.
Additionally, to renew your CNA, you must have been in practice for 200 hours in the last five years. If you were employed for less than 200 hours in the past two years, you need to complete 30 continuing education units (CEUs) to renew your license. However, if you were employed for more than 200 hours in the past two years, you only need to complete 15 CEUs. And if you were employed for 400 hours in the past two years, you do not need to complete any.
For the LPN or RN licenses in Wyoming, nurses must complete the Verification of Licensure form, complete and pass the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN exam, and pay a $130 application fee, unless they are being endorsed by another state, in which the fee is $135. To renew either license, you must have been actively nursing for 200 hours over the past five years. Just like the CNA certification, if you have been employed for less than 200 hours in the last two years, you will have to complete 30 CEUs, but if you've been employed for 200-399 hours in the past two years, you will only have to do 15 CEUS. And if you've been employed for 400 hours or more in the same time frame, you do not need to complete any CEUs at all.
The APRN license is slightly more complex - and expensive - to receive and renew. This is because APRNs are nursing professionals who have continued their education and earned either a master's or doctorate degree in advanced nursing practices. Examples of APRNs include:
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Nurse Practitioner (CNP)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
- Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
- Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
- Oncology Nurse Practitioner
- Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
Just like CNAs, LPNs, and RNs, APRNs are required to pass an examination prior to applying for their license, though the exam will vary depending on the specialty area they are interested in pursuing. If you are pursuing an original license, the application fee is $250, but if you are pursuing a license in Wyoming after having a license in another state, the application fee is $255. Each additional certification costs $70, and the criminal background check and fingerprinting will cost $60. And to renew an APRN license, you must provide proof of current and active certification with three hours of continuing education for prescribing controlled substances.
All nursing licenses in Wyoming expire biennially - every two years. All fees required CEUs, and applications must be completed before the expiration date.
Nursing License Compact in Wyoming
In 2000, the Nursing License Compact (NLC) was created to help improve how nurses receive and renew their licenses and how to ameliorate any misunderstandings about what regulations they must follow to keep their licenses in good standing. 18 years later, in 2018, the NLC started to include additional requirements for states to follow when approving nursing licenses - like fingerprinting and state and federal background checks. Since then, the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC) has swept the nation and been adopted by 40 states. Of these 40 states, 24 of them were part of the original NLC agreement, and another eight are in the process of adopting legislation to join the eNLC.
The states that have adopted the eNLC include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virgin Islands
- West Virginia
The only states that do not have eNLC legislation in the works include the following:
- District of Columbia
- Mariana Islands
California tried to join the eNLC, but the legislation was unsuccessful.
The eNLC's goal is to create a standard for nursing licenses that reach across state lines to help individuals increase their access to healthcare while also boosting the quality of healthcare and reducing costs to patients, hospitals, and insurance companies. A compact license allows nurses to move between states more easily, giving them greater opportunities to serve their patients without wasting time. Moreover, the eNLC decreases application costs and license renewal costs for all nurses, and it is especially helpful for full-time travel nurses who move from one state to another and contract to contract. Under the state-specific licensing structure, traveling nurses would have a harder time finding and fulfilling their contracts without considerable cost to themselves and the hospital they are working for.
How to Qualify for a License Under Enhanced Nursing License Compact
For an applicant to qualify for either an LPN, RN, or APRN license under the eNLC, they must:
- Complete the requirements for licensure in the state they reside in - in this case, Wyoming.
- Graduate from a board-approved education program or an international education program that has been sanctioned by that country's authorizing accrediting body and accepted in an independent review by a certified agency.
- Pass an English proficiency exam, if necessary.
- Pass the NCLEX-RN, NCLEX-PN, or their predecessor exam, or the several various exams for an APRN license.
- Have a license from another state that is unencumbered by disciplinary actions or fines, or be eligible for one.
- Undergo a background check and federal and state fingerprinting procedures.
- Have a valid Social Security number.
- Not participating in an alternative licensing program, but if they are, this information will be self-disclosed.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reviewed each state's nursing license requirements to ensure they included as many of the different and particular requirements as possible to encourage state participation in their eNLC initiative. Both the eNLC and its predecessor, the NLC, are supported by several different organizations. Some of these organizations include:
- American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
- American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
- Commission for Case Manager Certification
- Association of Camp Nurses
- Association of Vascular Access
- National League for Nursing
- Cross Country Healthcare
- Emergency Nurses Association
- National Military Family Association
- American Association of Poison Control Centers
- National Patient Safety Foundation
- National Student Nurses Association
- Oncology Nursing Society
- American Association of College Nurses
- Population Health Alliance
- National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
- US Department of Commerce
- Telehealth Leadership Council
- Organization for Associate Degree Nursing
- Hospital Corporation of American Healthcare
Though some states still refuse to adopt the eNLC, there are still some states that continue to push back against the eNLC, stating that they don't agree with its requirements for licensure or that they feel they won't be able to properly oversee and manage disciplinary proceedings. Additional complaints include that joining the eNLC might cost them state revenue for single-state licenses, that it might impact how telemedicine and telenursing grow and are regulated, and that the eNLC might affect patient confidentiality.
To overcome these complaints, the NCSBN encourages (and actually Wyoming requires) nurses to sign up for Nursys. Nursys is a notification system that informs nurses about the current state of their license, when it needs to be renewed, if it is about to expire, and whether there are any disciplinary actions attached to it. Moreover, it helps states authenticate nursing licenses. If a nursing license ends up being fraudulent or invalid, the states can use the Nursys database to review the issue, initiate disciplinary actions, and inform the accused nurse's employers.
What Types of Allegations Can Put a Nurse's License at Risk?
All nurses, no matter their license type, are supposed to abide by specific ethical and professional standards while practicing nursing. In Wyoming, if a nurse is accused of failing to maintain one of these standards, they could be punished, which might include having their license revoked completely. Common complaints against nurses include:
- Practicing nursing or nursing assisting while impaired because of physical or mental disability, lack of nursing competence, or substance abuse or dependency.
- Practicing nursing or nursing assisting while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, substances, or chemicals.
- Physically, sexually, verbally, mentally, emotionally, or financially a member of a vulnerable population or a patient.
- Engaging in sexual misconduct.
- Neglecting a client or member of a vulnerable population.
- Abandoning a client.
- Distributing, selling, or using illegally possessed, illicit, or manufactured controlled drugs without permission.
- Diverting drugs or medications for themselves or others.
- Interfering with a patient care plan.
- Performing unsafe patient care.
- Violating patient boundaries.
- Entering into a financial contract with a patient.
- Misappropriating patient property or keeping it in their position.
- Violating patient privacy or confidentiality, whether in writing, orally, or online.
- Failing to appropriately supervise others.
- Improperly delegating a nursing task.
- Helping another nurse practice beyond the scope of their experience or license.
Working with the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team the moment you learn of such accusations will ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call our offices today.
What is the Disciplinary Process for Nurses in Wyoming?
Once a formal complaint is filed with the Wyoming State Board of Nursing, the Board staff will investigate it. Depending on the type of complaint, the Board will either refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee (DC) or, in the case of physical or mental conditions or competency verification, they will refer it for an evaluation.
If the complaint involves a question of whether the nurse has the requisite physical or mental condition or competency, the DC will require the nurse to submit to an evaluation. Evaluations can be anything from psychological or psychiatric to substance abuse or competency assessments. During the evaluation, the DC will determine whether the nurse requires a diagnosis and if that diagnosis, or the result of the evaluation, should affect their license status.
Disciplinary Committee Formal Review
At a formal proceeding for disciplinary action, the DC will usually meet with the accused nurse to review the complaint. The DC will then decide whether to dismiss the complaint, issue a notice of warning, approve a settlement agreement, impose disciplinary actions, or recommend summary suspension.
In cases where the DC recommends summary suspension, the Wyoming State Board of Nursing will conduct an expedited hearing to decide whether the nurse in question presents a clear and imminent danger to public safety, welfare, and health if they are allowed to continue to practice.
When the Board recommends disciplinary action, though, they will notify the accused nurse and give them 15 days to respond to the allegations. To find a nurse responsible for misconduct, the DC must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the nurse violated the Nursing Act, Board Rules, or both the Nursing Act and Board Rules.
Board Decisions and Appeals
Once the DC makes a recommendation for disciplinary action against an accused nurse, the Board must approve the recommendation or conduct a contested case hearing if they do not agree with the DC's decision. If they opt to hold a contested case hearing, they must deliberate on all of the evidence admitted at the hearing and either:
- Issue, renew, reactivate, relicense, or reinstate a nursing license;
- Issue, renew, reactivate, relicense, or reinstate a nursing license with conditions or other disciplinary measures;
- Deny a license, renewal, re-licensure, reinstatement, or reactivation;
- Dismiss a complaint for lack of clear and convincing evidence; or
- Issue a warning notice.
Medical Facilities in Wyoming
In addition to the many individual doctor's offices and urgent care centers in Wyoming, there are several hospitals that the Lento Law Firm Professional Licensure Defense Team can serve, including:
- Aspen Mountain Medical Center in Rock Springs
- Campbell County Health in Gillette
- Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne
- Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cheyenne
- Cody Regional Health Medical Center in Cody
- Community Hospital in Torrington
- Crook County Medical Services District in Sundance
- Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Casper
- Evanston Regional Hospital in Evanston
- Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital in Thermopolis
- Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie
- Johnson County Healthcare Center in Buffalo
- Memorial Hospital of Carbon County in Rawlins
- Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas
- Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County in Rock Springs
- Niobrara Health and Life Center in Lusk
- North Big Horn Hospital District in Lovell
- Platte County Memorial Hospital in Wheatland
- Powell Valley Healthcare in Powell
- SageWest Health Care at Riverton
- Sheridan Memorial Hospital-Wyoming in Sheridan
- Sheridan Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Sheridan
- South Lincoln Medical Center in Kemmerer
- Star Valley Medical Center in Afton
- St. John's Medical Center and Living Center in Jackson
- Summit Medical Center in Casper
- Three Rivers Health in Basin
- Washakie Medical Center in Worland
- Weston County Health Services in Newcastle
- Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper
- Wyoming Medical Center in Casper
- Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston
The Nature of Wyoming State Board of Nursing Charges
Most people are well aware of criminal court and civil proceedings and have a tendency to confuse those proceedings with these administrative disciplinary hearings. In Wyoming, the Wyoming State Board of Nursing oversees disciplinary charges, not the court system. Accusations of nursing misconduct will only go to a criminal or civil court for review if the state or federal government believes there is enough preliminary evidence to support a criminal charge. If this happens, not only is your nursing license at risk but so is your personal freedom. Most of the time, accusations of nursing misconduct do not rise to such a level of depravity to invoke a criminal charge. That isn't to say you shouldn't fully prepare a defense for an administrative disciplinary hearing. There are still so many things that could be impacted by the loss or suspension of your license. Working with a skilled attorney-advisor provides you with the best of both worlds - an experienced attorney who understands the nuances of criminal and civil court and a seasoned professional license defense advisor.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional Licensing Defense Team Can Help
If you are accused of a Wyoming State Board of Nursing conduct violation, you need to reach out to an experienced attorney-advisor. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team understand how overwhelming it can be to be accused of misconduct by the state board of licensing. You may not know who you can trust or where you can turn to for help, which makes it hard to properly defend yourself against such actions. When nurses are unprepared for their disciplinary proceedings, it is unlikely they will be successful in preventing their license from restrictions, conditions, suspensions, or revocations.
Pursuing a nursing degree is no easy fete, and having your license revoked or limited in some other way can have seriously negative consequences on your future. Not only does it prevent you from continuing to work in nursing, but it might force you to pursue another career, move to a different state, or strip you of your freedoms in some other way. Additionally, if the alleged misconduct rises to the level of criminal charges, you could be facing something more serious than simply losing your nursing license.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team and Attorney-Advisor Lento have years of experience helping nurses defend themselves against unnecessary punishments and life changes. Not only do they understand what is at stake for you, but they also have the fighting attitude to mitigate whatever comes your way. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686, or schedule a consultation online.