The Ohio Nursing Board at its September 2009 meeting last week issued 90 Notices of Opportunity for a Hearing. 90 Notices, baby. This is a big deal; well its a big deal for someone like me who defends nurses, practices before the Board, and follows the legal regulation of nursing practice in Ohio. But I guess, as my mom likes to say, it is what it is.
Since I have been practicing before the Ohio Nursing Board, I can't recall that many Notices being issued at one Board meeting and I have been doing this since 2001. Ohio is a larger state but again we are not California or Texas large. Ohio has over 200,000 Board of Nursing licensees.
What is a Notice of Opportunity for a Hearing?
Its considered public action where the Ohio Nursing Board is proposing to take formal action against the license of a nurse or Board of Nursing licensee. The basis for the proposed action against the license is also listed in the Notice and the nurse has to formally request a hearing before the Board.
I attended the first day of the Ohio Board of Nursing meeting last week. It was noted that half of the nurses who have hearings have attorney representation and the other half represent themselves. 50% of the nurses who have a hearing before the Ohio Nursing Board represent themselves.
Are attorneys that expensive that nurses are undertaking representing themselves?
Or is it "I watch Law & Order, CSI, and Boston Legal, and I can handle this hearing before the State Nursing Board."
I am not speaking badly about nurses who represent themselves in a hearing because self-representation is a right in this country. But again its not just the actual representation that is so important, its the counseling and advising. You are going to represent yourself, okay fine. But you are also going to counsel and advise yourself as well on the career, workplace, employment, regulatory, and license implications of "action against the license." Get the ______ out of here!
This explains why I am receiving calls and inquiries from Ohio nurses who have Board Adjudication Orders that they don't understand, they disagree with, they don't know what is the next step, or they want to "appeal" 6-8 months after a hearing.
I use flat fees so you don't "save" any money by waiting to retain me after you have agreed to action against your license or after a hearing. Actually it may be more expensive because its in black and white what you have to do and "it is what it is."
This is the attorney in me who recognizes that the practice of law while a profession is also a business: some nurses will hire me on the front end (which is what I prefer) or some nurses will hire me on the back end (after signing a Consent Agreement or after a Hearing to assist them with the license reinstatement or probationary period) and the money I am paid on either the front end or the back end spends the same at Walmart (I miss Circuit City because you could buy the new release DVDs for $14.99).
But the nurse in me would like for nurses to consider attorney representation, counseling, and advising at the first hint of a disciplinary investigation with the State Nursing Board to protect your license and your career. But it is what it is!