When it comes to keeping a professional license and avoiding problems with the review board, many young professionals fail to realize exactly how much their conduct in their private life matters.
It matters a great deal.
Professional licensing boards of all kinds exist for a variety of reasons, but there are two reasons that no young professional should ever overlook:
- They exist to protect the public from the actions of misbehaving professionals.
- They exist to protect the reputation of their profession as a whole.
Those two functions give a licensing board a great deal of latitude to pry into a licensee's activities outside of work. Virtually anything that a young nurse, doctor, lawyer or other professional license holder does that reflects a questionable sense judgment or a lack of discretion can become an issue if it comes to the attention of the licensing board. Similarly, young professionals need to guard against any appearance that they somehow threaten the public's safety or welfare.
Certain off-duty actions -- like drug abuse or alcohol abuse -- can obviously end up causing problems in your professional life. It's no surprise, then, that those things would be of interest to the licensing board.
However, you also need to realize that something as simple as failing a roadside Breathalyzer test at a drunk driving checkpoint on the way home from a dinner party could end up putting your professional license in danger -- even if there's no indication that you ever drank on duty or have a drinking problem. The mere fact that you got behind the wheel after you had a drink could be considered unprofessional conduct.
Similarly, there are a host of other behaviors that could put you in front of the review board defending your professional license against charges that your actions show poor moral character or are derogatory to the profession as a whole. These include:
- The failure to pay child support
- Harassment or stalking
- Domestic violence
- A public fight that turns into an assault charge
- Firearms charges
- Personal relationships with patients or clients
- Social media rants about patients, clients or other professionals
The most important thing that young professionals have to remember is that nothing they do in private is truly beyond the scope of a licensing board's review. With that in mind, it's always important to conduct your private affairs in a way that puts you above professional reproach.