Do nurses have any legal recourse regarding disciplinary actions imposed by state boards of nursing?


Dear Nancy,

My RN colleague wrote a nasty letter to the state board of nursing regarding disciplinary action it took against her. I believe that she was asked to pay a fine, and she eventually returned to her home state. Now her home state has revoked her RN license as a result of her letter to the board that fined her. She asked to have her license reinstated and was willing to pay the fine. She was told that if she wants her license back (after she pays the original fine) she would have to retake the NCLEX and earn it. She has been out of school for 25 years.

I find this to be a puzzling response from the state board of nursing. Can state boards of nursing take such actions? Does my colleague have any legal recourse regarding her license?


Nancy replies:

Dear Richard,

There is probably much more to this situation than appears in your question. However, some general comments can be addressed.

Initially, most, if not all, state nurse practice acts give authority to a state board of nursing to discipline a nurse licensed in that state if the nurse has been disciplined in another state. The specifics of that authority are contained in the state practice act and rules, and the board of nursing must act within its granted powers. It may well be, then, that the fine in the other state would have resulted in disciplinary action in your colleague’s home state. The writing of the letter may or may not have had an impact upon the home state board’s discipline, but it was clearly not the best decision to write and send it. At a minimum, it speaks of unprofessional conduct, and the home state board also may have decided to act in accordance with its powers in that regard.

When a disciplinary measure results in a revocation, for example, the practice act and its rules in force at the time would control any requirement concerning relicensing, including retaking of the NCLEX. It is assumed that when the revocation was imposed as a disciplinary action, and possibly coupled with other disciplinary actions or time frames (e.g., the nurse has not practice for the past five years), there was a requirement that the NCLEX be taken again. Again, a board of nursing cannot act outside its granted powers and responsibilities detailed in the practice act and rules. If the board does so, the action can be challenged.

If your colleague thinks the board of nursing acted in a manner not consistent with the applicable nurse practice act and rules, she should consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in her state who handles professional discipline matters. The attorney can evaluate the situation and advise her specifically about what legal options, if any, are open to her. The sooner your nurse friend has this consultation the better. There are specific time frames within which a challenge to a board of nursing decision can be filed in a court of law.


This question and answer is an example of the many issues that may result from a disciplinary action against your professional license.  Soreide Law Group will represent you in front of the Florida Board of Nursing.  If you have any questions regarding your nursing license, please contact us at our website: or call and speak to an attorney at: (888)760-6552.