What to Do if Your Nursing License Has Lapsed

HClapsed-licenseNurses’ licenses can become invalid for a number of reasons, including forgetting to pay the renewal fee; or being ineligible for renewal because taxes, student loans or child support have gone unpaid; or losing a license after a violation.

Therefore, reinstating the license can involve everything from simply mailing a check to taking a refresher course to having to prove to the nursing board that you deserve to practice in your profession.

“We treat people who have let their license lapse for personal reasons significantly differently than people whose license lapsed because of department discipline,” says Susan Hofer, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The road back to getting a valid license varies by state, so the first step is to locate the website of the board of nursing in the state in which you intend to practice. A list of the web addresses is available at the website for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Here are some general principles in considering a course of action:

  • Amount of lapsed time counts. In Washington state, for example, if you are an RN whose license has lapsed for less than one year, you pay $147, which includes renewal and late fee. At the one-year mark, you have to complete a reactivation application, which consists of a renewal fee, a late fee and an application processing fee, a total of $217, says Thomas Bolender, with the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission in Washington. After a three-year lapse, if you do not have an active license in another state, you have to send in the application, pay the fees and take a refresher course with a clinical component, which you have nine months to complete, Bolender says.
  • You’ll need to clean up debts. If your license has lapsed during a time when you have failed to pay expenses such as taxes or child support or student loan payments, you will have to make good on those accounts before you can apply to be reinstated, says Hofer.
  • Don’t try to hide the reason you lost your license. For one thing, state departments share information on payments and court judgments with boards of nursing. Trying to hide information may also reflect poorly on you. “Consequences will probably be a little bit stiffer if you try to hide it from us,” says Bolender.

The vast majority of nurses keep their license in good standing from year to year and very few get them revoked. According to the NCSBN, the number of licenses receiving disciplinary action numbered less than 1 percent in 2012. There were 2,244 revocations total, ranging widely among states from zero in five states (Iowa, Kentucky, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia) to 504 in Texas.

© Health Callings, Dice Holdings Inc., 2013

About Marcia Frellick

Marcia Frellick is a Chicago-based independent journalist with 25 years of experience writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and online news sites. A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Frellick’s work has appeared in AllHealthCareJobs.com, health care magazines including Nursing Spectrum, Hospitalists, Today in OT and Today in PT, Hospitals & Health Networks and Trustee and the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Issues magazine, Northwestern magazine and several other publications.

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