What Does a Public Reprimand Mean for Your Professional License?

Most licensed healthcare professionals are familiar with a type of discipline known as a public reprimand. Whether you are a doctor, nurse, physical therapist, veterinarian, or another health provider, your governing board can issue a public reprimand if you are found guilty of a minor legal violation. In a nutshell, a public reprimand is posted online to make the general public aware of it.

While no one wants to be publicly outed for breaking the law, the upside of a public reprimand is that it is not the end of your license, though it does have some consequences. Learn more below about how a public reprimand can affect you, and when a professional license defense attorney can help.

Understanding Public Reprimands

Many licensing boards in California issue public reprimands when employees are found guilty of a minor violation. A public reprimand is an alternative to other disciplinary options, such as probation, license suspension, or revocation.

The good news is that a public reprimand will not result in restrictions against your license and won’t prevent you from practicing your profession.

The Public Reprimand Process

Typically, a public reprimand is issued after your licensing Board learns that a complaint was filed against you, or you are arrested for a minor crime. The Medical Board of California (CMB) and the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) are two Boards that commonly issue public reprimands. In addition, a wide range of other health professionals can be publicly reprimanded by their Boards, including physical therapists, psychologists, osteopaths, pharmacists, chiropractors, and many others.

If a complaint is filed, the Board will investigate to learn more. If they discover that the complaint is relatively minor, they will have to file an Accusation against your license. While the Accusation may “pray” for harsher action, through successful negotiation and argument in defense, they will agree to issue a public reprimand rather than a harsher disciplinary action such as probation, suspension, or revocation of your license.

A public reprimand is the lowest form of discipline and is preferable to probation. If a licensee is more severely disciplined, their ability to practice can be impacted. With a public reprimand, they can simply continue practicing. Depending on your circumstances, you may be required to pay fines or complete coursework as a stipulation of your punishment. A licensing attorney can help you better understand your rights and get you an improved outcome for your case.

Effects of a Public Reprimand

Although a public reprimand will not result in any immediate restriction or impairment on your license, it is important to keep in mind that it often stays online for several years, and it could affect employment opportunities. Employers, who are autonomous from the licensing boards, may have different reactions to any employee or prospective employee that has any level of discipline on their record. 

For example, if a nurse is reprimanded, according to the current Board of Registered Nursing policy. the notice will remain online for three years from the date the nurse paid fines, completed coursework, or took other actions required under the reprimand.

Keep in mind that if you choose to pay fines with a payment plan, the timeline for how long the offense remains public will not begin until after you have made your last payment.

What to do if You Receive a Public Reprimand

Make no mistake that a public reprimand is far better than other forms of discipline you could face, but because it is public, it could disrupt your practice, cause you to lose patients or clients, and cause tensions between yourself and your employer. This is because anyone can view the complaint that led to your public reprimand by visiting the BreEze database.

If you are facing disciplinary action, even if it may only result in a public reprimand, especially if you feel that you have been unjustly accused, it is in your best interest to contact a licensing attorney for a consultation. This is even more important if you are facing an Accusation from the Board but are unsure of the outcome.

Investigations can be incredibly intimidating, and a lawyer can help guide you through this stressful process and ensure that your rights are upheld.

Professional license defense attorney Scott J. Harris has helped many Californians get successful resolutions in license defense cases, and he may be able to help you as well. Consultations are always free, and you will learn about your rights and get experienced legal input on your case. Contact us today to discuss your case in detail and discover what we can do for you.

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This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.