Criminal Infraction? Writing a Letter of Explanation to the BON

Ashley is sick with worry. She has made it through nursing school and applied to the BON for testing privileges. Her application was denied because she was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) years ago. The BON is requiring a Letter of Explanation. She's at a loss on how to compose the letter, and everything is at stake for her. Nurses Nurse Beth Article

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Criminal Infraction? Writing a Letter of Explanation to the BON

A criminal history does not mean that you cannot become a nurse, but it may mean extra work and extra expenses. If you have a previous offense, maybe you, like Ashley, must now write a letter of explanation regarding your offense or DUI to the BON.

Your Letter of Explanation is highly important. It determines your future. You will be judged as to your level of remorse, insight, and personal responsibility for the incident.

It must be genuine, concise and honest.

Factual

Start with the incident. State what happened simply, factually and chronologically. Do not offer excuses or cast blame, but do include underlying circumstances.

It's in your favor to describe the conditions in your life that affected your decisions and behavior at the time. Most bad choices don't come out of nowhere, and the people who will be reading your letter understand that. It's important to convey that you are not making excuses for your behavior. You are simply describing the circumstances that contributed to your choices.

Personal Insight

Perhaps the most important and the key to success is showing insight into your own behavior. Everyone makes mistakes...but have you learned from your mistakes?

Tell the BON exactly what you've learned about yourself, and how your values have changed. Maybe you were impulsive and immature at the time, but now you value long-term gratification over instant gratification.

Rehabilitative Lifestyle Changes

Show the BON without a doubt that you have taken responsibility. What have you changed in your life to ensure that this behavior would not happen in the future?

List everything you've done to prevent future occurrences. Did you receive counseling, attend a recovery program, do community work? Include compliance with terms of probation, restitution, or parole.

You may live in a different location with positive influences now, or maybe you've joined or even lead support groups. Show that you are not the same person who committed the offense. You have different friends and you make good choices.

Show Remorse

You are genuinely sorry for what you did. You now understand that you could have harmed yourself, or other people.

You can't change the past, but you can control your future behavior. You have grown from this and regret the choices you made in the past.

You are remorseful.

Enlist Help

It's best to get help from someone to write this, unless you are very confident in your writing skills. At the very least, have your letter proofed for grammar and spelling by 3 separate individuals who will be honest with you.

Some applicants find it helpful to retain a lawyer during the process, to ensure that the licensing process goes smoothly. This can be expensive, and not all attorneys accept payments over time. Start saving for legal expenses in advance if you anticipate a problem,.

Letters of Reference

Letters of reference should be on official letterhead from employers, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals in positions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.

They must be signed and dated within the past year.

What to Expect

You may face probation, a conditional license with probation terms, a fine, or citation. If your DUI was a fairly low BAC, you may only face a letter of reprimand or a citation and fine.

Do not ignore any mail from the BON or Attorney General's office. Make sure your current address is on file at all times.

Your failure to respond to the Statement of Issues will result in the denial of your license application by a default process.

Cases are decided on an individual basis, and may take some time. Be patient and persevere.

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth is an Educator, Writer, Blogger and Subject Matter Expert who blogs about nursing career advice at http://nursecode.com

146 Articles   3,405 Posts

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Biosphere

35 Posts

Specializes in ED, Trauma, Swat,Critical care, Peds.

I Totally agree and the truth is the only way to handle it.

Donna Maheady

10 Articles; 159 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, developmental disabilities.

Great advice Beth! I will be sharing widely!

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

146 Articles; 3,405 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
Donna Maheady said:
Great advice Beth! I will be sharing widely!

Thanks, Donna. Everyone deserves a second chance

Nurse2B_88

35 Posts

Thank you Nurse Beth, this was very informative. Will be sharing!

buzzy

2 Posts

Beth,

A friend of mine was in a similar situation prior to sitting for her boards. She was not aware of the criteria explanation of arrests record prior to taking the boards. After graduation she had to contact an attorney and obtain an a letter from a judge regarding her civil disobedience. She also had to write a letter to the board. She has obtained her license. At this point you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Contact a lawyer; he can give you the best advice at this point. If you can not afford one at this time, you might be able to make some payment arrangement. People like to see people improve their lives. God bless you and I know you can get past this obstacle.

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

146 Articles; 3,405 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
buzzy said:
Beth,

A friend of mine was in a similar situation prior to sitting for her boards. She was not aware of the criteria explanation of arrests record prior to taking the boards. God bless you and I know you can get past this obstacle.

I know, for example, a lot of people think that "expunged" means they do not have to report it to the BON when applying for licensure. But you have to report everything.

Jeanne K

1 Post

Every case is different. But in California expect at least a year before being able to take the NCLEX and three years probation. And have some $$ because it is not cheap.

puptent

5 Posts

For this exact reason most nursing schools will not allow a person to enroll if they have a criminal record. The reason why is that most people borrow money to go to school and if they can't find a job they won't be able to pay the money back. Nursing Schools should not allow people to enroll if they know that there is no hope for them to find a job. Even if the BON allows a person to get a nursing license they will still have to do criminal back ground screens for employment and an employer can choose not to hire them based on the results. If a person is interested in becoming a licensed nurse and has a criminal record they should consult with an attorney in regards to getting their charges dismissed or expunged.

NurseNHowell

93 Posts

Hi I am required to write letter for my RN application due to a traffic infraction that ended up being over the CA BRN $1,000 limit. I am stuck with how exactly do I address the letter?

I have always had trouble starting papers, reports, etc... Its just so hard to figure out who to address it to and how to start the first paragraph.

Any ideas?

Thank you!

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

146 Articles; 3,405 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
NurseNHowell said:
Hi I am required to write letter for my RN application due to a traffic infraction that ended up being over the CA BRN $1,000 limit. I am stuck with how exactly do I address the letter?

I have always had trouble starting papers, reports, etc... Its just so hard to figure out who to address it to and how to start the first paragraph.

Any ideas?

Thank you!

Here's a few suggestions-I would check the website to see if they list the board members. if so, address your letter to the chair. If you cannot find the names, use "Dear Board Members". If they have sent you a letter regarding the infraction, use the name of the person who signed the letter.

Finally-before I addressed my letter, I would call the Board and simply ask. Best, Nurse Beth

Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

146 Articles; 3,405 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
puptent said:
For this exact reason most nursing schools will not allow a person to enroll if they have a criminal record. The reason why is that most people borrow money to go to school and if they can't find a job they won't be able to pay the money back. Nursing Schools should not allow people to enroll if they know that there is no hope for them to find a job. Even if the BON allows a person to get a nursing license they will still have to do criminal back ground screens for employment and an employer can choose not to hire them based on the results. If a person is interested in becoming a licensed nurse and has a criminal record they should consult with an attorney in regards to getting their charges dismissed or expunged.

Re: "schools should not allow people to enroll if.." -nursing schools do not do a deep background check on applicants. The BONs conduct an FBI level check, but that is not until the student applies for a testing date. Also, when charges are expunged, they are still reportable and discoverable.

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