As soon as you have received your file from the Board of Nursing review it carefully with a Nurse Advocate. Gather evidence from your file and formulate a timeline. Only you know what mitigating circumstances were at play. Then request an informal hearing. It will likely take months before you hear back from the Board as to whether they "granted" your request for an informal hearing. An informal hearing is not a guaranteed part of the process. After you have been granted a hearing then request that you be permitted at the hearing, to review your complete file that will be brought to the hearing and has been compiled this far. They may refuse your request but respectfully remind your Investigator that the Board's own disciplinary process permits you to review your complete file excluding witness statements and evidence they consider subject to discovery rules. Banker boxes of documents are brought to hearings and pale in comparison to what you were provided when you first requested your file.
ATTENDING THE HEARING
Go to your informal hearing with an Advocate. We can accompany you and have experience attending a hearing. Do not go alone because if the committee decides in your favor the Board may later ratify or deny. Do not take anyone that charges by the hours as the Board will keep you waiting before you are even taken back to your short opportunity to defend your case. You are permitted any reasonable witness, even your spouse to accompany you into the hearing. Have your complete file with you and your notes carefully organized. Dress professionally and conservatively. And be prepared to be humble and conciliatory. If you did do something wrong the committee wants to know you recognize this and are willing to take accountability.
You will sit in a conference room facing at least six representatives to the Board. These representatives are not the Board of Nursing. They represent the Board and can only make recommendations to the actual Board.
TAKE NOTES, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT
Have your Advocate take thorough notes in the form of minutes to include the names of the committee members and their title. The committee members are made up of attorneys, your Investigator, other Investigators, nurses, and a Legal Nurse Consultant. If the committee's recommendations to the Board are denied or are ratified, you will need these minutes as there will be no other documented evidence available to you, of what was said in the hearing.
REQUEST TO REVIEW THE HUGE FILE THEY BRING TO THE HEARING
Your Investigator will have at your hearing your complete file and it will be much larger than what you received. Ask if you might review their file. Advise the committee you are not sure you received everything you might need to review and would like that opportunity now. If you discover anything in your file that you have not been provided request you be provided a copy.
PRESENT YOUR CASE
Present your case utilizing evidence found in your file. Present to the committee a time line of events that you and your Advocate formulated well before. Answer any questions politely and calmly.
THE COMMITTEE'S DECESION
After a short time you will dismissed to await the committees decision. If the decision is adverse, ask with respect what evidence they are basing their decision on. They are likely to answer with a global answer such as "the same evidence you were provided." Ask if they might be specific so that you may review the evidence and if need be take accountability. Tell them your goal is to understand what you are being accused of and that you wish to take any responsibility you should take. Document for your future reference any evidence they are basing their declension on. You will need this to later rebut the evidence. Even if the decision is in your favor ensure you take careful notes as to their decision. And don't start celebrating yet. Though you may be bursting as the seems and even relieved, do not tell anyone else what the committee decided.
WAIT ANOTHER MONTH
The committee will represent to the Board their recommendations. There will be no one to advocate for you or to ensure the Board has a clear understanding of the facts. The Board may choose to not respect the committee's recommendations and even order the charges be expanded upon. I have never been able to determine if influencing the Board's later unilateral decision is the employer's response to any proposed resolution. Since it takes at least a month for your Investigator to inform you of the Board's actual decision I suspect the initial complainant has had the opportunity to respond to the committee's recommendations.
I will discuss in later post what happens next. Please do not go this alone. You are facing a powerful Board that is not on your side. They are not on nursing's side. You need an advocate and we can help.