If you are facing a licensing investigation due to a substance abuse issue, there is hope to maintain your license. The licensing board may begin an investigation on the basis of a DUI or drug conviction or due to complaints received from a colleague or client. It doesn’t matter what prompts the investigation, the consequences can be very serious.
The board has the authority to suspend your license pending a hearing if they believe you constitute a danger to the public. While this process is most often used for the medical boards (including nurses), where patient safety is the number one priority, generally, it can be used by any of the boards. Physicians must remember that they are required to disclose arrests for DUI within 60 days and cannot wait to see if they are convicted.
It is imperative that you receive professional advice immediately, in order to most successfully navigate through this process and maintain your license. You will need both legal advice and the advice of medical professionals. Certainly, if there are criminal charges pending, you should have the advice of an experienced criminal attorney but they may not understand the impact that any charges or conviction would have upon your ability to practice. Medical experts to assist you with any substance issue will be imperative to maintaining your license.
If you have a substance abuse problem you will have to acknowledge it and receive professional help to address it in order to maintain your professional license and continue to practice. You will be required to demonstrate that you can competently practice your profession. Substance abuse counseling, in-patient treatment, AA meetings, and mental and/or physical examinations may all be necessary and will certainly be helpful to establish your ability to practice. If the board allows you to continue to practice, they may require submission of the reports from the above treatment and may also require random drug and/or alcohol testing. Further, they may require attendance at appropriate twelve step meetings and they may require a workplace monitor.
The random testing can take the form of urine, serum, blood, saliva, perspiration, or hair, although the most common is urine. (False positive results can occur with these tests and it is extremely important to follow the specific onditions i.e. no poppy seeds on rolls etc.) Workplace monitors can be a partner if approved by the board. There are two types of monitoring programs used by the Department of State to supervise practitioners and to ensure compliance with any Orders of the board. Those programs are the Voluntary Recovery Program (VRP) and the Disciplinary Monitoring Unit (DMU).
While substance abuse addiction and a board prosecution can be very daunting problems, with the assistance of the proper professionals you can maintain your license and continue to practice. If you find yourself suffering from a physical or mental impairment you should consult with the appropriate professionals. If you contact me, I can assist you through this process.