Is the California Board of Nursing Manipulating their Nursing Shortage?

U.S.A. California


  • by RoubRN
    Specializes in CCRN.

In April 2013 my husband and I relocated to California. After several months of acquainting myself with a new environment, I began the process of applying for my California RN. I completed the application, submitted my fingerprints for the background checks, requested transcripts from nursing school, and submitted the necessary fees. Unfortunately, after scrutinizing the CA board's website, I discovered the lengthy court transcripts regarding my school, Excelsior.

Many of you may know already where this story is headed. However, the devil is in the details. My pre-RN background included six years as an LPN at a long term acute care facility where I typically cared for four to six ventilator dependent patients. In 2003, I began completing tests through Excelsior. Officially on 11/17/2006, I was awarded an ASN with a GPA of 3.47. And so I began my RN career working dayshift at Jewish Hospital/Louisville, KY, in their arduous ICU Towers. I as well worked in CVICU and trained in Open Heart Recovery. In 2009, after meeting AACN requirements, I achieved my CCRN. I have accumulated over six years of critical care experience, as well as being a physician extender for two Intensivists' Groups.

Sadly, because I didn't pay my enrollment fee ($725) way back in 2003, the CA board will not accept my RN. After shedding many tears and spending long hours speaking with advisors in State Boards both at Excelsior and the CA board, I will not be issued a CA license. Why didn't I pay the enrollment fee in 2003? A very sweet older woman, Rose, who has since retired, advised me to "save my money." She told me to wait until I had completed Nursing Concepts 3 before sending the enrollment fee. At that time, my hourly wage was $13.25, and I appreciated her advice. However, both Excelsior and the California Board have repeatedly advised me that IF ONLY I had "enrolled" (enrolled by definition meaning paid their fee) I would be "grandfathered in."

Wow. This in a state with a projected nursing shortage of 1.2 million by 2020, per the Federal Bureau of Health Professions. California as well leads the nation in hospital staff strikes, with two of the largest in the country. Some locations including Alta Bates and San Jose have had multiple strikes with protests as recent as February 13, 2014. They cite "staff shortages" as the basis for striking.

On December 2, 2013, WKBN in Los Angeles delivered a segment on the state wide nursing shortage. They determined that California nursing schools accept only 18% of their applicants. When questioned, those schools cite faculty shortages and clinical site shortages as their rationale.

With six years of ICU experience, a specialty certification, along with upwards of $50,000 spent on training this highly specialized RN role, it is a tragedy I cannot obtain licensure here. The CA board is quite specific about "concurrent clinical hours with theory." And to them I would suggest reading the US Secretary of Education's article on "competency education." To take it one step further, I would recommend that Excelsior implement a clinical regiment allowing the student to obtain independent, yet individually approved, instructors in the workforce. This is common practice for the PA and NP programs nationwide.

Finally, who benefits from this stance, and who suffers from it? Based on the California Nurse Association's own website, there are a myriad of current patient care issues stemming from "chronic short staffing", as well as poor nurse to patient ratios. We all share one common role and that is to be a patient advocate above all. Denying my licensure because I failed to pay $725 before the 12/31/2003 deadline defies logic. I will leave it to the readers to decide who could possibly benefit from this.

MunoRN, RN

8,058 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

It's not limited to California's BON, 15 states don't consider a Nursing degree from excelsior to be sufficient in addition to the NCLEX for state licensing. I doubt they are are conspiring to create a nursing shortage, more likely they just don't see Excelsior's curriculum as meeting their requirements.

I'm sorry that you are having difficulties, but there is NOT a nursing shortage in the area- at all. I wish you luck in getting things resolved quickly.


4 Posts

Specializes in CCRN.

Where did you find the 15 states? Several states including Washington, Maryland, Georgia, and others may have additional requirements, such as additional clinical hours, etc. However, California is the ONLY state who will not license Excelsior grads not enrolled prior to 12/31/2003.

Sam J.

407 Posts

Wow. This in a state with a projected nursing shortage of 1.2 million by 2020, per the ...

More like WOW, REALLY? There are only 3 million RNs in all of the United States, yet somebody says a single state, CA, needs 1/3 more than that entire number, in 6 years? No WONDER everyone wants to move to CA- the state with the highest number of UNEMPLOYED nurses? Sometimes you just have to laugh at the so-called 'statistics' you see.

Ouch. What a nasty situation for you to be in. I hope there is some way for resolution for you.

Regarding the "short staffing" issues you mention.....I would imagine those would be due to hospitals not hiring sufficient staff rather than a shortage of RNs willing to take on those positions.

allnurses Guide

herring_RN, ASN, BSN

3,651 Posts

Specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. It seems to be you are as competent as any RN.

I remember when California began putting the notice on their web site. I think it was 1002.

California is very specific about hours of clinical experience. I wish your experience after getting licensed could be used to prove current competence.

There are many RNs who can't get a job in parts of California. Too many hospitals fail to comply with the requirements for licensure by always assigning the maximum ratio to each nurse and by failing to provide a competent RN to take over the assignment when a nurse goes on a break. Often they cut nursing assistants too.

Not adding staff for high acuity patients is morally and legally wrong.

With your experience i'm sure many hospitals would be fortunate to have you.


493 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/Coronary Care Unit,.

I've heard of various states not accepting Excelsior's curriculum as satisfactory for meeting their nursing requirements. Unfortunately, it looks like you'll have to start school all over again...which sucks...or move. Sorry.

MunoRN, RN

8,058 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.
Where did you find the 15 states? Several states including Washington, Maryland, Georgia, and others may have additional requirements, such as additional clinical hours, etc. However, California is the ONLY state who will not license Excelsior grads not enrolled prior to 12/31/2003.

Excelsior College | State Board Requirements


122 Posts

The "nursing shortage" in California is a lie. It is a great psyops tool to flood the market with "hungry" applicants, and it creates a clamboring demand at the college and university level. I'm sorry you got caught up in it, too.


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

The shortages in hospitals have nothing to do with how many qualified applicants there are. It takes up to a year for a new grad to get a job. Hospitals aren't hiring to fill lost positions. They're all doing the whole "more with less" thing, which is why nurses ARE protesting- too much is being demanded, pt ratios don't always line up with national recommendations, acuities aren't being considered in staffing, etc. CA has one of the highest unemployment rates among nurses in the country. It's one of the most competitive markets in the US. I'm sorry to hear that the stats posted that you saw were what they are, and that your situation is so rough- I can't imagine after everything you've put into your career! I hope you are able to work out a Plan B soon!

Specializes in CCM, PHN.

Yeah, there's a huge difference between a "nursing shortage" and a "staffing shortage." There is a glut, a surplus of nurses in the state who cannot find jobs because employers are hiring fewer and laying off more in the name of profit.

So no, there is no "nursing shortage," my company gets 500-600 applicants for one position. There is a nursing JOB shortage caused by a capitalistic, profit-based healthcare system that wants more for less. I suspect the BON tightened up a lot of their regs - from foreign nurses to curriculum audits and other stem the flow of incoming nurses to CA to help drive down the unemployment numbers.

I am sorry you are a victim of this tightening up, but it is also true that other states BONs are not accepting Excelsior's curriculum.

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