Who makes decisions at the Ohio Board of Nursing?

It’s Board week at the Ohio Board of Nursing. This means that Board members from around the state will meet at the Board offices in Columbus on Thursday, September 20 and Friday, September 21, 2012 to review the official business and make decisions regarding such matters as the implementation or change to a Board rule, granting licenses to nurse applicants, closing or continuing investigations, issuing citation letters to nurses, and ruling on final disciplinary matters against nurses. Ohio Revised Code §4723.06.

The Nursing Board is governed by the Nurse Practice Act, which outlines the powers and duties of the Board members. R.C.§4723. The Board is composed of thirteen Board members: eight are licensed RNs, 4 are licensed LPNs and one is a public member. Board members are not compensated but are reimbursed for their expenses. Board Members are appointed by the Governor and serve four-year terms. O.R.C. §4723.02.

Under the Board’s rules, the Board is only required to meet as often as necessary to carry out its duties. O.A.C. 4723-1-01(D). The Ohio Nursing Board has six regularly scheduled meetings each year. Meetings are typically held the third week in January, March, May, July, September and November.

While the Board members make all final decisions, the daily operations of the Board is managed by an Executive Director, who is also an RN. The Board also has a bevy of attorneys, investigators, licensure specialists, and support personnel that work at the Board office on a daily basis and carry out the daily operations of the Board. In addition, any disciplinary matter that proceeds to an administrative hearing, is prosecuted by an Ohio Assistant Attorney General.

The Board is not governed by a statute of limitations. Therefore, if an investigation is initiated against a nurse or nurse applicant, the Board has no time limit in which it must begin or complete the investigation or license (or deny) the application of an applicant. Investigations and applications for initial licensure can take months before the individual is notified if they will be granted a license or subjected to discipline by the Board.

I am always asked “who makes all the decisions at the Nursing Board?” and “why does it take so long to get through the application or investigation process?”  The short answer is that the Board members make all final decisions.  However, since the Board only meets six times a year, official Board decisions are only issued at those Board meetings.   Therefore, if your case is not presented by the staff to the Board Members to review at a Board meeting, your case will not be acted on until the next board meeting.

The Ohio Nursing Board licenses and monitors thousands of nurses each year. For the vast majority of nurses, they will be issued a license or their license will be renewed quickly and without delay. However, if your license application is subjected to additional scrutiny because of a prior conviction, prior impairment, or action by an other state agency, it can take months to be licensed. Similarly, if you are the subject of a Board investigation, even if your license has been summarily suspended by the Board, it can take months to work through the Board investigative and disciplinary process.

As always, if you have any questions about this post or the Ohio Board of Nursing in general, please call me at (614) 486-3909, email me at beth@collislaw.com or check out my website for more information at www.collislaw.com.

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