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California BRN Enforcement. Happy ending!


I remember being soo nervous about becoming an RN. School was the easy part, but waiting on the board to say YES or NO to my application was the hardest. I applied and 7 weeks later, the Board of Nursing of California made their decision. Here's my story.

Back in 2003 in my senior year of high school, I made a bad and regrettable decision to steal from my job. I was 18. Yep. In my head I must have convinced myself it was fine, because I was stealing for a "good cause". The good cause was that this was school related, I needed a business suit and other items for my annual business club conference in which we stay in a hotel for 3 days out of town . Well, a week or so later, I was escorted by loss prevention and charged with embezzlement. At my first court hearing, the judge dissolved that charged and I was charged with petty theft. I pleaded guilty.I paid the fine, probation, all requirements within 6 months.

At that time, was I thinking about the career choice I would want, 6 7 8 years from then? No. I was thinking about myself, my wants and needs and not my future.

I went to the military soon after graduation and had the time of my life. I traveled, met amazing people, but most importantly served my country for 8 years. During that time, what I did actually restored my self-worth and re-established my trustworthiness and integrity and even obtained a secret clearance in order to work as a financial personnel. I also used this time to apply for a case expungement/dismissal in 2008. It was granted.

After that, I applied to nursing school knowing that my criminal history could bite me in the butt. But I went in with honesty and disclosed whatever I was required to disclose. My record at that time was 9 years old. I got into the RN program, no problem.

I landed a job as a student nurse/CNA a year later and continued to work until graduation. The dread of applying to the BRN started to attack my psyche about 6 months before I applied. I gathered my court documents, arrest/citation record, letters of recommendations, work evaluations and made a very honesty letter of explanation then sent them to the BRN along with my application about 8 days before graduation. When I said I was a nervous wreck, I MEAN IT. I was already making plans to work at Walmart, already making plans to open a business. I was Plan B'ing like no ones business. I was sick, I was anxious. I was numb. All sorts of emotions because I knew it was ultimately their decision to find me fit as a future RN.

Listen, the BON, BRN, or whomever consider the following things:

-Recency: how long ago has it been since their criminal conduct. If it was recent, we really cant say we trust that their integrity has changed, not enough time has gone by to prove themselves.

-Nature of the crime: Was it something just gross and vile or was it something that was just bad judgement?

-Recurrent criminal history: is this person getting in trouble over and over, and is it for the same thing? Why is this person continuously putting themselves in illegal activity.

-Documentation of change: has this person really realized that what they did was wrong. Did they apologize in their letter and proven that they have changed through volunteering, rehab, classes? Do people in the community vouch for them via letters of reference? Was the letter of explanation more of a bragging opportunity or was the applicant really sorry and regretful for their behavior.

Of course there is no way to 100% predict your chances, but you really should think about how those factors play in your situation. I feel that I had a few factors that really helped in my case: it was 11 years ago, It was a one time thing. My case was expunged/dismissed pursuant to California Penal code 1203.4. I went to the military and was assigned positions that dealt with money and accounting. I work as a student nurse/CNA worker and I was truly, truly sorry!!!

My advice to incoming students: think about this, how long ago was it, was it something just gross and vile or was it truly just bad judgement. How many things do you have against you? Have you had your case expunged? Have you truly changed and have you done anything measurable to prove it? Do professionals in the community vouch for you? You have a lot of time to get these things in order before it is time to apply to take the NCLEX.

My advice to soon to be NCLEX applicants: be honest. Gather documents, letters of reference from instructors as soon as you feel they would vouch for you. Tell them your criminal background so they can be amazed at how greatly you turned your life around.Try to work for a hospital, and volunteer a lot!

Ultimately, what we did in our past is not always the past. We made a bad decision and this is why it was a bad decision: we jeopardize our future. We have to own it. Make sure you let the board know that you own it.

I looked up info on google and actually found out that the CA BRN has public documents on cases that were dismissed. The more I read them, the less nervous I was about my case. Look them up and see how you compare.

I received a letter today stating that:

The BRN has determined that your convictions were substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a registered nurse. Business and Professions Code Section 480 authorizes the Board to deny a license for conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a registered nurse.

The Board will not pursue any disciplinary action against you at this time.

YAY!!!! I also got my autorization to test (ATT) last night via email.

All in all, if was a stressful journey. I truly believed that I deserved a chance because I am a good person who made a bad decision 11 years ago! I hope this helps and serves as inspiration and hope that you will be fine! :)

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

Congratulations! I am pleased that things worked out for you.

The Board will not pursue any disciplinary action against you at this time.

YAY!!!! I also got my autorization to test (ATT) last night via email.


Has 1 years experience.

Hi, thank you for sharing. I was charged with petty theft for attempting to steal a $2 from Walmart at age 19 (2 years ago). I am from out of state, halfway through a BSN program, and am afraid I won't be able to work in California without restrictions. I am hoping the BRN will forgive it because the item in question was of very low value and it only happened once.