Being a licensed professional does not cloak a person in perfection. If you are a licensed professional, you are only human. You may make a mistake. You may develop problems with alcohol or drug dependency. You may be accused of negligence or professional incompetence. And while you may not consider it at the time, such human failings could jeopardize your chosen career.
As a licensed professional, it is so easy to take one’s license for granted. A solitary trip to your mailbox can change everything in an instant, and may ultimately threaten your livelihood. For one day, your snail mail could contain a communication from your Missouri professional licensing board inviting you to attend something they like to call a “voluntary hearing.” Make no mistake about it. Whether you are a licensed Missouri physician, nurse, psychologist, pharmacist, cosmetologist, architect, real estate appraiser, teacher or other professional, there is nothing “voluntary” about this invitation. Nor is it a forum to “come clean” to the state board. Quite to the contrary, the professional licensing board has gotten wind of some problem or concern which they are investigating with an eye toward determining whether there is cause to discipline your license. They will use anything you say at the voluntary hearing to build a case for discipline of your license, up to and including revocation if they believe the circumstances support it.
Being human, you may want to believe that our state professional boards are human too, and therefore are forgiving of mistakes that people make. In reality, forgiveness has nothing to do with it. The first and foremost duty of the Missouri professional licensing boards is to serve the public through the diligent oversight of those that practice the professions they oversee. If you get a request to attend a voluntary hearing, you may be tempted to go it alone, without the assistance of an attorney who is experienced in dealing with Missouri’s professional boards. That choice, to go it alone or hire a lawyer, may be one of the most important and valuable choices you make on behalf of yourself and your family.
While the state board is looking to protect the public, an experienced professional licensing attorney is looking to protect you. You want to hire the best Missouri professional licensing attorney you can find. The voluntary hearing situation is akin to a hornet’s nest, in which one misstep can get you stung. The state professional board will question you over and over about whatever mistake they believe you made, and a qualified attorney is the one person that can help you at the hearing by making sure your are informed about the process, the types of questions you are likely to get, and the best way to present yourself in order to minimize the chance that the board takes disciplinary action.
If your walk to the mailbox contains an invitation from your state licensing board to come visit with them at a voluntary hearing, remember these four words: Don’t go it alone. With an attorney to advocate for you, you will have the greatest chance of continuing in your chosen profession and maintaining your income. Call us. We are hear to help.
-- Jason Call