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Defending Your Occupational License, Without Being Defensive

Receiving a notice that you are under investigation by your occupational licensing board is an extremely stressful event.  The initial reaction of many receiving such a notice is to panic that this means the end of their professional career.  The good news is most frequently that is not the case.

Medical Record Analysis

Notices of investigation from an occupational licensing board generally request that the recipient respond to the allegations contained in the notice.  While it is of course natural to want to vigorously defend yourself from any allegation, it is critical in responding to a notice of investigation to avoid becoming defensive or overly aggressive in the response.   Crucial facts that a board may need to know about the matter often get lost in overzealous responses.


Except in those circumstances when a board itself initiates an investigative complaint, boards do not pick and choose who to investigate.  For instance, both the governing statutes for the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners and the Nevada State Board of Nursing provide that those Boards “shall” conduct an investigation when they receive a complaint about a licensee with limited exceptions.  When a board receives a complaint against one of its licensees, it has received only one side, and often only a partial bit of the story.  A response to a notice of investigation is the license holder’s opportunity to provide the board with their side of things, to dispute or clarify allegations that may have been raised.  Implying that the allegations are ridiculous or that the suspected complainant (most times the identity of the complainant is withheld) is vindictive for some reason does not provide the board with the facts.  Context is needed to determine whether the allegations raised in the complaint require more formal disciplinary action or whether the investigation may be closed.


Before responding to a notice of a board investigation, it’s wise to take a step back and think critically about what information the board needs to truly evaluate the matter.  Additionally, it is highly recommended that legal counsel be consulted before submitting any response to a board investigation.  Legal counsel experienced in administrative/licensing matters can help identify potential issues that may need to be addressed proactively and pitfalls to avoid.   Further, legal counsel can respond to alleged violations of statute and regulation which are typically included in the notice of investigation.  Often professional liability policies cover legal costs associated with responding to board matters, with certain restrictions, so it’s good to check your policy to ascertain whether it can help defer all or some legal costs.

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