If you are a vocational nurse and psychiatric technician, you need a professional license to practice in California. The California Board of Vocational Nursing (BVN) is the regulatory body that issues these licenses and disciplines vocational nurses who engage in professional misconduct.
Dealing with patients as a vocational nursing & psychiatric technician can be exhausting. In some cases, you are unable to meet your patient's expectations. A complaint or misconduct could make you face a citation, license suspension, or license revocation. This is a danger to your career, and you must act fast to protect your practice and source of income.
Any disciplinary action by the board, big or small, could result in a public record, accessible by potential employers and clients, casting doubt on your credibility. The board can revoke your license, thus, ending your career. Fortunately, if you are in Long Beach, California, the Legal Guardian can help fight any allegations and protect your license.
Valuable Roles Vocational Nurses Play
If you are a vocational nurse, patients expect you to be compassionate as you care for them in various settings. Your responsibilities will include caring for and monitoring the health of those placed in nursing homes, hospitals, or those who prefer home care instead.
The duties of vocational nurses are critical, and they include:
- Monitoring and recording vital signs
- Monitoring and caring for patients with chronic conditions
- Documenting the progress of patients
- Working with intravenous equipment or machines
- Issuing medications and treatment
- Caring for and dressing of wounds
As a vocational nurse, your roles are critical and on-demand. The training and education needed to start your vocational nursing career are not easy, and you are faced with numerous challenges. Equally, it takes you considerable time to accomplish the requirements, not forgetting the high costs involved.
Despite the huge investment, a small error or a complaint from an unsatisfied patient making unreasonable demands or false allegations can affect your career. Fortunately, you have a chance to fight for your license and livelihood with an experienced license attorney’s help. If you are accused of any professional misconduct, the law allows you to defend yourself from any disciplinary action the board imposes. Without aggressive defense, you risk losing your license and career.
Critical Services Psychiatric Technicians Offer
The roles of psychiatric technicians are similar yet different from those of vocational nurses. While vocational nurses deal with patients suffering from normal medical conditions, psychiatric technicians treat emotional or mental illnesses. If you are a psychiatric technician, you require a professional license to work in hospitals or clinics dealing with mental health.
Additionally, you may also be involved in the rehabilitation of a patient or their overall treatment plan. Psychiatric technicians sometimes find themselves dealing with other tasks that are not in line with mental health. These tasks include assisting your patient with personal hygiene and grooming or administering medications and injections.
In your line of work, you want to be the most compassionate caregiver. However, you are human and could make mistakes or be unable to please everyone. For instance, it is impossible sometimes to watch over your patients when fatigued. You may not know the thoughts in your patient's mind when they are unsatisfied with your service provision. This means you may employ various care methods for your patient that you are sure to work, but the patient makes independent decisions.
These independent decisions by your patient can affect the treatment program and the results expected. Similar to vocational nurses, psychiatric technicians are exposed to numerous complaints or lawsuits because of their work. Fortunately, you can defend any allegations leveled against you before the board takes disciplinary action.
The Role of the California Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians (BVN)
The BVN’s responsibilities include issuing professional licenses to California psychiatric technicians and vocational nurses. Applicants of these licenses are expected to meet high standards to be eligible. Additionally, the board protects the public from bad practices from healthcare professionals.
Patients of their families can file complaints via the official BVN’s website or email. The board evaluates each complaint and pursues those they deem to have merit by investigating them. If, during their investigation, the board establishes misconduct took place, different disciplinary actions are taken.
From this, it is apparent that the board's role is to protect the public from unfair practices by vocational nurses or psychiatric technicians. As the board works towards maintaining high industry standards, the professionals are left exposed to numerous lawsuits without protection. The fair thing would be protecting the public from unfair practices and vocational nurses and psychiatric technicians and maintaining high-quality care.
Because of this noble mandate of protecting the public, the board can sometimes quickly believe accusations that have no merit against vocational nurses and psychiatric technicians. Misunderstandings between patients and their caregivers and false accusations are many. Like there are valid allegations, invalid or exaggerated ones are also many.
Some common complaints concerning vocational nurses and psychiatric technicians are:
The use of controlled substances, their abuse, and various drug-related crimes - vocational nurses and psychiatric technicians can access controlled drugs. A genuine complaint can be raised that you are using these substances or are illegally selling them to your patients or others. If substantiated, such a claim is a serious allegation that can result in imprisonment, let alone lose your license.
On the other hand, these allegations can also be false. A patient who is unhappy with you can make ridiculous allegations on how you offer them controlled drugs to manage their conditions. A colleague or any other person can also write to the board, alleging you are involved in this type of misconduct.
Having a Conviction in your Record - As a human being, you may face criminal proceedings that may result in a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor offense. If the sentence relates to your qualifications or duties, it is likely to hurt your profession. For instance, if you have a conviction of using drugs or elderly abuse, these are relatable to your career and can cost you your license to practice.
Unprofessional conduct – A patient can accuse you of being unprofessional in your conduct. For instance, if you care for a patient from their home, you may borrow money or things from them. This is unprofessional behavior that can cost you your career.
Getting off the standard norm of care – A patient or their family may feel you deviate from the usual way of caring for the patient. If they think you are experimenting with treatment programs on them that are out of the agreed plan, this allegation can result in losing your license or another disciplinary action.
Incompetence, ordinary negligence, or grossly negligent – Caring for patients is not taken lightly, and a small mistake can cost the patient their life or result in injuries. If any of these happens, you can face allegations of being negligent in your duties.
Violating license probation terms – Some allegations from patients can see the board put you on probation for a period. You may be asked not to practice during the probation time, but you go ahead to practice hoping the board will not know because you need money. If this happens and is substantiated, it can result in the total revocation of your license.
Dishonest or Fraudulent behavior – A patient can complain that you billed them for more hours than you worked. Another complaint can involve forging a prescription when obtaining drugs for the patient. All these are fraudulent behaviors that will result in disciplinary action against you.
Physical or sexual abuse – A patient can accuse you of physically or sexually assaulting them. These are serious allegations that, if undefended, can result in the loss of your license.
If any of the above allegations are leveled against you, the board will investigate and, based on their findings, take various disciplinary actions suitable for the offense. But, as earlier stated, you can defend yourself against any of these allegations with the help of a licensed attorney and avoid harsh disciplinary actions or legal penalties.
Standard Disciplinary Action the Board Takes
Aside from issuing professional licenses to qualified applicants, the board also disciplines its members found to violate their code of conduct. Some everyday disciplinary actions the board can take include:
- Revoking your practice or license – Of all the board’s punishments, this remains the harshest of them. This punishment is reserved for more substantial complaints, but it can happen even with less severe ones. When the board informs you of an allegation against you, ignoring them and failing to file a response known as a notice of defense can result in your license revocation.
- Suspending your license –When your license is on suspension, it means you cannot work for a given period. If the board finds out that you continue to practice despite your license suspension, you risk a revocation altogether.
- Fines and citations – When your offense is not as significant, the board can order you to pay a fine or cite you. Although this type of disciplinary action is less severe, it still registers in your background, and potential employers may consider it before giving you an opportunity. Fighting against any allegation that can result in this is critical in keeping an excellent record.
- Public reprimand – This kind of disciplinary action can adversely affect your career. When you are reprimanded publicly by the board, it means your potential new employers and clients will think twice before giving you a chance.
- Probation – If your license had been revoked, an appeal could change to probation instead. This means you will receive a suspension of your license for a short period, and after the lapse of the time, you can practice again. However, your practice is only possible if you adhere to various terms and conditions of the probation.
Sometimes, a contentious settlement can be reached, allowing you to retain your license provided you stop doing some things and follow given guidelines. If the board asks you to let go of your license voluntarily, do not agree to it. Appearing for any hearing with the board without your lawyer present is also discouraged.
When allegations are made against you, you have a right to respond as earlier stated and present your defense. In this case, a hearing presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)is scheduled. After hearing the allegations against you and the evidence, the judge will allow you to present your arguments. After hearing both sides, the judge directs the suitable disciplinary action that may include probation, revocation, suspension, or any other appropriate punishment.
However, before deciding, the judge will consider the factors below:
- The type and seriousness of the offense
- Whether the patient suffered any harm because of your actions
- Any prior disciplinary action against you
- Any criminal convictions that relate to your profession
- Whether you are currently facing multiple or a single violation
- If you are facing numerous complaints, the judge will see if they are similar or the same
- Any factors into the offense that aggravate it or if mitigating factors exist
- Evidence that you would reform
- The possibility of you repeating the wrong if you keep practicing
- Whether you cooperated in the investigation
The role of the ALJ is not to decide but to propose a decision. The board takes the judge's proposal and reviews it for a final decision. Sometimes, the ALJ can depart from the guidelines and offer a written justification to their recommendation. However, if the allegations were on substance abuse, no deviation is permitted.
The Process of Receiving a Complaint and Deciding
When a public member makes a complaint, the board registers it and prioritizes it according to its severity. The committee evaluates all the complaints that come in and decides which ones have merit and pursue them. Many complaints received are disregarded when they lack credibility, with investigations carried out only on those offenses that seem substantial.
Next, the board starts to investigate the allegations by notifying you of the complaint formally, and they are initiating an investigation into them. When you receive the notice from the board, it is then that you contact a professional license lawyer to prepare your defense. Engaging an attorney at the onset of the investigation increases your probability of a positive outcome. Avoid speaking with the investigators without your lawyer present. If they engage you, direct them to talk to your attorney instead of saying things that can incriminate you.
As they investigate the allegations, the board can issue you with a temporary suspension to bar you from offering your services until your case is determined. If this happens, your lawyers can fight against it and have you continue practicing, mainly because an investigation can take a long time, and you need to earn an income in the meantime.
Your lawyer will passionately present evidence and arguments in your favor and challenge these allegations at the hearing. If a witness can testify for you, they are produced to challenge the prosecutor's testimonies.
If you are issued probation as punishment, your lawyer can negotiate for a shorter period and less strict conditions. In case the disciplinary action is because of substance abuse, your attorney can assist you in enrolling in a diversion program instead of losing your license. But, you must complete the diversion plan if you want to avoid serious consequences. Your lawyers will ensure you are well informed about the diversion program before enrolling for your successful completion.
Denial of a License and its Reinstatement
The board regulates who obtains and who is denied a practicing license based on various reasons. If your application for a practicing license is denied, your lawyers can help by engaging the board on your behalf. An experienced attorney will appeal against the denial and ensure that the board's requirements are fully met for you to obtain your license.
The board may require you to take an exam known as the NCLEX, provide more paperwork, clear criminal issues in your past, or update your education requirements. If your license was revoked previously due to a violation, your lawyer could petition for its reinstatement. This may require your admitting to the offense that resulted in the revocation and provide evidence of your reform.
When all the requirements are met, the board can reinstate your license. If a hearing is required to challenge your license's revocation, your attorney can help you prepare for it and represent you, enhancing your possibility of its reinstatement.
Find a Professional License Defense Lawyer Near Me
As a vocational nurse or psychiatric technician, allegations of professional misconduct could compromise your hard-earned career. The board’s mandate is to protect the public from unprofessional conduct that could harm them. For this reason, the board leans more on the alleged victim's side, leaving you to fight against a possible disciplinary action.
If you are in Long Beach, California, and facing board investigations for allegations against you, The Legal Guardian could help you mitigate harsh penalties. Call us at 888-293-0396 to discuss various ways to fight for your rights and license.