Board Action

Emergency Actions

After a board of nursing's (BON) consideration of the complaint from the facility or public and the immediate evidence available, an emergency action may be taken. Emergency actions usually take the form of a summary suspension of a nurse’s license. The general standard for this action is clear and convincing evidence that continued practice by the nurse would present a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public. Immediately following this decision, the BON must issue a written order of suspension and cause it to be delivered according to statute to the nurse. In most states a summary suspension means the individual cannot work as a nurse or represent oneself as such.

At the same time of the summary suspension, the BON usually files a formal complaint and begins a complete investigation. A summary suspension will usually remain in effect, unless reversed by the BON, until a final adjudication order issued by the BON pursuant to statute.

Disciplinary Actions

The language used to describe the types of actions available to BONs varies according to state law. Although terminology may differ, board action affects the nurse's licensure status and ability to practice nursing in the state taking action. Board actions may include:

  • Fine or civil penalty
  • Referral to an alternative to discipline program for practice monitoring and recovery support (drug or alcohol dependent nurses, or in some other mental or physical conditions)
  • Public reprimand or censure for minor violation of nurse practice act often with no restrictions on license
  • Imposition of requirements for monitoring, remediation, education or other provision tailored to the particular situation
  • Limitation or restriction of one or more aspects of practice (e.g., probation with certain restrictions, limiting role, setting, activities, hours worked)
  • Separation from practice for a period of time (suspension) or loss of license (revocation or voluntary surrender)
  • Other state specific remedies


The primary purpose of board action is remediation, that is, efforts to correct practice and promote safety. Accordingly, board orders define requirements the nurse needs to accomplish in order to have the license reinstated.

NCSBN Learning Extension offers online courses on topics that are often assigned to nurses for remediation.

  • Delegating Effectively
  • Disciplinary Actions: What Every Nurse Should Know
  • Diversity: Building Cultural Competence
  • Documentation: A Critical Aspect Of Client Care
  • Ethics of Nursing Practice
  • Medication Errors - Detection & Prevention
  • Nurse Practice Acts
  • Patient Privacy
  • Professional Accountability & Legal Liability for Nurses
  • Professional Boundaries in Nursing
  • Righting a Wrong: Ethics & Professionalism in Nursing
  • Sharpening Critical Thinking Skills
  • Understanding Substance Use Disorder in Nursing