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Student Loan Default: Can your professional health care license be suspended?

June 29, 2019
Est read time: 3 minutes

If you’re a physician, nurse, or other health care professional who has defaulted on student loans or has been contacted by the Florida Department of Health regarding your defaulted student loans, it is important to take action and seek legal advice immediately. 

Let us help you:

  • Review your letter from the DOH investigator
  • Know and evaluate all your options
  • Know who to contact regarding your defaulted student loans
  • Provide advice on how to successfully navigate the system and get your license cleared
  • Representation before DOH and your professional board
  • Provide you after representation with a letter for future employers

Our firm has experience representing physicians, nurses, and other professionals licensed by the Florida Department of Health who have received an Emergency Suspension Order (ESO) or Administrative Complaint (AC).

  1. The Law

Section 456.072(1)(k) of the Florida Statutes states:

“Failing to repay a student loan issued or guaranteed by the state of the Federal Government in accordance with the terms of the loan…shall be considered a failure to perform a statutory duty or legal obligation, and the minimal disciplinary action imposed shall be a suspension of the license until new payment terms are resumed, followed by probation for the duration of the student loan…and a fine equal to 10 percent of the defaulted loan amount. “

This means that defaulting on any government-backed loans, like loans received through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can jeopardize your professional license.

2. The Process

Section 456.074(4) of the Florida Statutes states:

“Upon receipt of information that a Florida-licensed health care practitioner has defaulted on a student loan issued or guaranteed by the state or Federal Government, the department shall notify the licensee by certified mail that he or she shall be subject to immediate suspension of license unless, within 45 days after the date of mailing, the licensee provides proof that new payment terms have been agreed upon by all parties to the loan.”

After you receive the first letter regarding your defaulted student loans from the DOH, you have 45 days to prove your compliance with loan obligations. Compliance can be reached by full payment of the debt or by negotiating new payment terms with your loan holder, such as loan consolidation or rehabilitation. This process can take weeks or even months. 

Our firm has seen situations where this first letter has been ignored, misplaced, or forgotten. This is not advisable. At the end of the 45-day period, the DOH will file an Emergency Suspension Order (ESO) against your license, making it illegal for you to practice. 

We strongly recommend that you use the services of an experienced health care attorney to help you through the process of getting your loans out of default, and to ensure that the DOH is provided the necessary documentation to prove that you are in compliance. In these circumstances, time is against you, but the process can move very slowly. Establishing a strategy early on for defense of your medical or nursing license is the best approach. Let us help you maximize your chances of a successful outcome.

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3. Our Law Firm

Howell, Buchan, & Strong, Attorneys at Law is headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida’s Capital City, which is where the Florida Department of Health and Agency for Health Care Administration is based. We also have an Orlando office to serve your needs. We have decades of experience dealing with state government agencies and the problems that arise, especially with issues involving health care professionals. This is not an area of law where you should go it alone.

We also handle Administrative Complaints, appearances before professional boards, AHCA Medicaid audit issues, background screening exemption applications, DOH investigations, and general advice on health law matters.

Our professional license defense firm provides representation to physicians, nurses, and other licensed professionals statewide. We also represent out-of-state clients who hold professional licenses in Florida. 

Our goal is to successfully defend you so that you can keep your professional license.

Our law firm advises, counsels, and represents health care professionals, owners of facilities, and management regarding DOH and AHCA issues.  To schedule a free no obligation consultation, call us at Howell, Buchan, & Strong, Attorneys at Law, 850-877-7776

Have Questions? Let's Talk

Contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong at 850-877-7776 to set up a FREE no-obligation consultation. Our firm represents physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other licensed professionals statewide.
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