There is a lot of personal investment required to become a nurse. You need schooling and a state license. Continued education is a condition of licensing and employment for many nursing professionals, which means you have to keep informed about big changes in the industry.
Like other medical professionals, nurses are subject to more scrutiny and a higher personal standard of ethics than the average person. Even if you consider yourself a devoted and compassionate nurse, issues from your personal life could potentially affect your career.
Drug charges could easily lead to the loss of your license or at the very least a stressful disciplinary hearing where your license is at risk.
STATE LAW WITH DRUG ABUSE AS A LICENSING ISSUE
Florida law lists a number of criminal offenses that may preclude someone from keeping their nursing license. These include violence or forcible offenses, as well as fraud or child abuse charges. However, the law also clearly states that substance abuse or addiction that impacts somebody’s job performance could also lead to the revocation of their license.
Although drug possession offenses are not necessarily actionable on their own, the underlying addiction that led to those charges might lead to review by the licensing board and censure, if not the suspension or revocation of your license.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEFEND YOURSELF AND YOUR PROFESSION
Many people accused of drug offenses plead guilty, possibly because they think that is a better approach than going to trial. However, even a plea to a lesser offense might trigger disciplinary action up to and including loss of license.
Aggressively defending yourself against a pending charge is often a better option if you have a professional license. Without a criminal conviction on your record, there will be a greater burden of proof for the disciplinary board if it wants to take action against you.
If you have already submitted a guilty plea or the courts convicted you, you still have the option of defending yourself at a disciplinary hearing. Just like in court, you have the right to legal representation during a hearing that puts your professional license at risk.
Understanding how substance abuse and drug charges affect your nursing career can help you protect the investment you have already made in your profession.