With few exceptions, it often takes very little time before you realize you are in an exhausting, thankless job. This may be especially true for nurses. Working as a nurse means being on your feet for many hours, dealing with difficult patients and demanding doctors, and risking exposure to illness and injury.
If you are working without a license, you face harsh elements of a different kind. The penalties for practicing nursing without a license can be substantial, depending on your circumstances. Each state is different, and the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing has its own requirements for licensure and consequences for those who work as nurses without obtaining or maintaining a valid license.
The risk of working after your license expires
There are numerous reasons why someone might practice nursing without a license, but perhaps the most common is failing to have your credentials renewed. Before your license expires, you are required to have obtained a certain number of continuing education credits, paid your fee and completed the renewal process. If your license has lapsed for a certain length of time, the board will consider you inactive. If you continue practicing nursing during this time, it is a violation and may even be a criminal offense.
While you may suffer no penalties from working on an expired or inactive license, things could come crashing down if you make a mistake that causes injury or death to a patient. Depending on the circumstances, you may face any of the following:
- The board may levy a fine against you for practicing without a valid license.
- If a court finds that you committed a crime by practicing without a license, you may face probation of a year or longer.
- A court may require you to make financial restitution if a patient suffers an injury while your license was inactive.
- Depending on the severity of the circumstances, you may face time in jail or prison, which may last one to eight years.
To avoid these risks, you can have your expired or inactive license renewed or reinstated by completing the appropriate requirements. However, if you have been working as a nurse during the time your license was invalid, you may face some difficulties with the board. Additionally, if you delayed applying for your license renewal because of some disclosure you must make to the board, such as an arrest or conviction, you may benefit from legal counsel during the process of renewal or discipline.