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Do you understand the meaning of ‘professional misconduct’?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2018 | Receiving And Maintaining Professional Licenses |

“Professional misconduct” is a term that gets thrown around a lot by licensing authorities — but exactly what does that mean?

It’s sometimes hard to say. Even human resource managers don’t always have a clear grasp on what exactly is meant by the term. It gets even more difficult when terms like “minor misconduct” and “gross misconduct” get tossed into the mix.

If you have a professional license of any kind that you want to protect, it comes down to this: Anything you do that damages the connection between you and your clients or you and your employer can be labeled misconduct — including some things that happen “off the clock.”

The more serious the offense, the more likely it will be considered “gross misconduct” instead of just ordinary or “minor.” Either way, an accusation of misconduct can damage your ability to maintain a professional license or acquire one in a different state if you choose to move.

What are some examples of gross misconduct? Consider these:

  • Any type of illegal activity, from fraud and theft to stalking and physical violence
  • The use of illegal drugs of any kind, on or off the job
  • Evidence of your incapacity to perform your job due to alcohol or drug use
  • Using your position to discriminate against someone, whether that person is a co-worker, subordinate, or client
  • A violation of safety rules that results in someone’s injury
  • Saying or doing something online that could harm the reputation of your organization or profession
  • Involving yourself romantically with a subordinate or client
  • Causing damage to your client or patient through an obvious act of negligence
  • Using your association with your employer for a private, unauthorized purpose that leads to personal gain

Depending on how serious your employer considers the misconduct (and, quite possibly, how much the issue becomes known to the general public), you can suffer anything from a reprimand to the loss of your job.

It’s important to understand that allegations of professional misconduct are never something you want to ignore in the hopes that the situation will blow over. If your job is in danger over a situation, you should also consider your professional license to be in danger as well — and respond accordingly.

Source:, “Professional misconduct,” accessed May 11, 2018


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