In the world of administrative and professional licensing law, a license revocation or surrender is rarely a forever thing. Our clients have a common misperception that if their license is revoked or they surrender it to resolve a case, they can never again reapply and get their license.
Nearly all licensing agencies, especially those governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (Government Code Sections 11500, et seq.), provide for petitions for reinstatement of a license. While it varies among agencies, after a period of generally two to three years, a former licensed professional or healthcare provider may petition the board or agency for reinstatement of his or her license. The process is not easy and nearly always requires the licensee to complete the administrative hearing process. And, if the petition process does not prevail, the licensee applicant has to wait again another two or more years to try again.
Over the years, Simas & Associates has represented countless licensed professionals in reinstating their licenses. This can be a very satisfying and positive process but must be done correctly. This blog highlights the five most common pitfalls or perils in petitioning for reinstatement that thwart the likelihood of success.
- Insufficient evidence of rehabilitation.
Our legal team recently reviewed a denied petition for reinstatement in which the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) repeatedly found that the healthcare provider had not presented “sufficient evidence of rehabilitation.” It is not obvious to licensees, or even lawyers who do not routinely practice in this area, that any petition must include significant evidence of rehabilitation both in quality and quantity. Many such petitioners submit a few letters of recommendation, which fail to acknowledge awareness of the underlying cause for license trouble in the first place. Further, the petitioners and their counsel often fail to demonstrate what is “the plan” upon re-licensure or reinstatement.
As a petitioner in such cases has the burden of proof to show overall fitness and readiness to resume practicing his or her profession, they must meet this burden or the petition will fail.
- Failure to take ownership of the underlying action.
No one petitions for reinstatement who has not first lost his or her license to practice their profession. Another common fatal flaw petitioners and their counsel make is failing to take “head on” the issues that caused the license discipline in the first place. Acknowledging them, taking responsibility for them, and articulating a clear-cut reason why such transgressions cannot or will not recur is the key to success in avoiding this pitfall.
- Demonstrating competency to return to practice.
Especially in the area of health care, one who has lost his or her license cannot practice their profession without it. Thus, nearly every petitioner faces the conundrum of having to show competency and preparedness to resume practice while having not been able to practice. Our team makes this showing in several ways, including presenting evidence of pertinent and voluminous continuing education, training, education, and even proctoring or mentoring, if needed. In addition, returning to school or taking assessments by third-party practitioners is also extremely useful. A petition that does not address how the licensee is going to successfully integrate back into his or her field will not prevail.
- What is a future plan?
All petitioners must answer the question, what are you going to do if reinstated? Failure to answer this means the petitioner is not adequately showing he or she will be safe to practice in the future and will cause the licensing board uncertainty and concern sufficient to deny the petition. Where will the petitioner practice and for whom? These are the biggest issues.
- Plan for probation or supervised practice.
Most petitions for reinstatement do not result in an unfettered license to jump back into the profession completely. Because there was an underlying transgression from which the applicant has traveled many miles to petition for reinstatement, the petitioner must address how he or she will practice successfully, most likely with a probationary or restricted license. This often means locating a potential employer in advance or obtaining witnesses who support the petitioner sufficiently to be able or willing to hire them upon reinstatement. Admittedly, it is hard to find a job when you do not have a license to perform the job. But, to increase the likelihood of successful petitioning for reinstatement, this simply must be addressed.
A petition for reinstatement requires a significant commitment in terms of effort and finances due to the required hearing process and amount of evidence that must be provided. But the process is not worth undertaking unless the plan is solid and the likelihood of success is high from preparation, attention to detail, and avoiding pitfalls outlined in this article.
Please do not hesitate to call the experienced lawyers of Simas & Associates when you need to petition for reinstatement or have a colleague that needs to do so. Contact us at 888-999-0008 or firstname.lastname@example.org.