My law practice keeps me very busy. I love what I do for a living and it is my passion. Nurse license defense is still and has always been my dream job. Being on the frontlines in nurse license defense has shown me there is a need for additional services for nurses and nursing students related to the law, legalities, and legal issues. This is phase II for my practice and I am sooooooo excited that I am finally able to move forward with consulting practice while continuing with my bread and butter, nurse license defense in the context of my law practice.
Nurses just a few pointers however, attorneys provide a service to the public just like nurses provide a service to the public. The difference being that nurses are typically paid an hourly wage or salary by an employer for the services provided while most attorneys quote the fee or the amount for the service being provided to the public.
Why is this important and what am I saying? After 11 years of nurse license defense NOTHING surprises me anywmore in the context of my law practice; I am seen the worst in the profession and the arguably some of the best in the nursing profession also. I am not surprised but just puzzled by the number of nurses who need legal representation before the State Nursing Board but decide for "cost" not to retain ANY attorney.
You spend anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000.00 on undergraduate and graduate school nursing education for an ASN, BSN, MSN, or PhD. LPN or LVN programs cost $10,000-$20,000 now.
After spending tens of thousands of dollars on a nursing education, the majority of nursing students and NCLEX Applicants with affirmative responses on a State Nursing Board application will roll the dice and apply for a license without consulting with an attorney on the responses to the application questions. "My nursing instructor said this isn't a disqualification so I should just apply", "I am a different person than I was 5 years ago when I committed those 4 felonies and 3 misdemeanors and the Nursing Board will see this." You don't say?
A LPN, RN, RN-BSN, RN-MSN, or RN-PhD has an income potential of several hundreds of thousands of dollars or several million over the course of a lifetime of nursing practice. That's money. Nurses, as LPNs, general RNs, or APRNs don't earn server wages plus tips. Yet this is the disregard I see with respect to the severity and seriousness of a State Nursing Board complaint and the possible implications on licensure, employability, and the nursing career. You don't say?
I hear all the time "I don't have that kind of money for a lawyer", which is usually anywhere from $3,500 to $9,500.00 with most cases being at the $3,500 to $5,500 range (excluding probation and monitoring with the State Nursing Board) and the most complex cases ranging from $7,500 to $9,500.00. Even APRNs, with advanced education and who certainly earn more and have more scope of practice and more autonomy than LPNs or general RNs will frown at representation and proceed pro se. I quote a few cases over $10,000.00 but usually not because how I can structure my flat fees on case milestones. I don't quote low ball fees; I don't have to do this and it isn't a sound business practice. I quote a fee based on me working your case and we have to work license defense cases, in my law practice anyway. We go hard in my practice, just ask my paralegal.
I am even seeing cases where APRNs and RNs start their own businesses providing nursing services and maybe billing the government for services and fail to consult with and work with a nursing law attorney on the business basics before opening the doors. This is a recipe for disaster. Just look at the number of Independent Providers who have their license suspended and are indicated for fraudulently billing the State of Ohio for home care services. Why don't these IPs, both RNs and LPNs consult with a nursing law attorney? How can you bill for services and also practice in your business as a nurse with advice and counsel of a nursing law attorney? Not the corporate or general practice attorney who did your LLC, but an attorney who can assist you with the nitty gritty practice and operational issues like job descriptions, scope of practice, etc.
Most nurses spend thousands of dollars on a vacation or two in a year, a bathroom remodel, or some other expense or luxury but will frown at the investment into representation, counseling, and advising in a State Nursing Board complaint which can silence, stop, end, terminate, or unfashionably cramp, crop, and crimp a lifestyle with its career and employability consequences.
I can't represent you for $995.95 in ANY case and certainly not one where the Board has issued a Compulsory Psychiatric Evaluation (these cases are akin to doing that old school dance "the fight", Cabbage Patch, the Snake, and the Humpty Hump to slow music if you get involved late in the game. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3suw_vb6-fY) and you are licensed as a APRN in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan, and Illinois. Sorry.
Nursing malpractice and nursing negligence don't end careers baby; State Nursing Board complaints and discipline of the license are the career enders pumpkin pie. Don't believe what you were told in nursing school or what you were lead to believe by colleagues. The issues isn't malpractice or negligence it is State Nursing Board discipline. This is why I am so excited about Phase II to my business, it only took me 10 years to get here but I am ready finally to offer additional services and products for nurses and nursing students on understanding the law and the practical implications for nursing practice. Better late than never applies to me and maybe you.
I am also planning to start volunteering as a nurse later this year to get my hands back in nursing practice. If you know where I can volunteer as a nurse here in Cincinnati, email me or call my office. Just a few hours a month.
Do yourself a favor and retain an attorney if a complaint is filed against you with the State Nursing Board and not necessarily the least expensive or cheapest attorney. Do your homework and retain an attorney who practices primarily before the State Nursing Board, there are usually several in any given state. I get calls from nurses who go with an attorney just because the initial fee was so cheap only to find the representation, counseling, and advising isn't that great. Retain an attorney who lives, breathes, sweats, and bleeds license defense and has represented a lot of nurses. License defense is a cross between criminal defense and family law because the stakes are high and the emotions run even higher. Criminal law, family law, and license defense are intense but guess what Hot Mama (that's me) is intense also.
Also, I can't spend an hour in-person or by phone with a prospective client; unless you are paying me for my time. I offer legal consultations.
Nurses, you don't work for free as a nurse so don't expect me or any other attorney to review a shitload of documents (35-45 minutes plus any research time) and tell you your options and next steps on how to proceed and what to expect over 45-60 minutes "at no cost" as an attorney. Just the facts: this isn't a solid business model for a solo attorney and although I have found my passion, I am in business to make money (I have to pay bills too) and provide needed and necessary services to nurses.
I receive on average 35-60 calls and emails from nurses in Ohio, Kentucky, and/or Indiana who have pending issues with the State Nursing Board MONTHLY. If I (or my paralegal) spent 1 hour with each prospective client (who may or may not retain me) how could I work for my clients who actually pay me to provide them services? Just between Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, there are over 11,000+ complaints filed in a fiscal year, every year. Nursing malpractice and negligence complaints "go to your room" and take a nap because State Nursing Boards complaints are "in the house."
We have free will and if you decide to proceed pro se in a State Nursing Board complaint, I sincerely hope and pray things turn out all right and okay for you. I pray for myself, my clients, and all of us as nurses.
Sometimes it turns out okay for nurses who represent themselves in State Nursing Board cases; others are not so lucky. The landscape is changing before State Nursing Boards in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana; I can feel it like DMX. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0nAjxPV-E8
I see it and I am living, breathing, bleeding, sweating and practicing it daily; you can't say the same when you represent, counsel, and advise yourself in a matter which can/may break your nursing career.