This topic is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This is simply an account of my experiences with the California Board of Registered Nursing
. Individual situations will vary depending on:
- The nature and severity of the crime
- Evidence of any acts or crimes committed subsequent to the crime under consideration
- The time elapsed since the crime
- The extent that you complied with parole, probation, restitution, or other lawful sanctions
- Evidence of rehabilitation
I'm a 26 year old male applying for my RN license from the California Board of Registered Nursing in December 2012. I attended a California State University for 4 years to get a BSN degree.
I have been working in the emergency department of a hospital for 1 1/2 years; great place to get experience and references.
Prior convictions include:
- Theft of personal property in 2004 at the age of 18 (8 years ago)
- Open container in 2004 at the age of 18 (8 years ago)
- Basic speed law in 2010 at the age of 24 (2 years ago)
I expunged my theft of personal property charge in 2008 after a three year probation. I highly recommend expunging your record after you serve probation even though you have to report it to the BRN and any government agency. This is because it looks good to the board and after you get your license you usually don't have to report the crime when applying for a job. For California expungement information go to: http://www.saclaw.lib.ca.us/pages/ex...l-records.aspx
I got my speeding ticket dismissed after completing a trial by written declaration. I also highly recommend trial by written declaration for tickets because all I wrote was "I am not guilty" and because the cop didn't write a response, I got back all my money and got the ticket dismissed.
The Application Process:
Applications are relatively straightforward for the California Board of Registered Nursing until you get to the prior convictions section. You got your work cut out for you if you have any convictions and this includes tickets over $300 and yes...even things that were expunged or dismissed.
When completing the California BRN prior convictions section it is on you to get all the documentation needed and organized so I suggest starting early so that you can have things ready before you graduate and so that you don't postpone your application too much. For this section I organized it in the same order as it is listed on this guideline on the California BRN website. Enforcement Applicant Desk
Prior Convictions Section of the Application:
Letter of explanation: This must be very well written so make sure it is proofread
(unlike this post) and make sure to include: circumstances surrounding the arrest(s), convictions(s), and/or disciplinary actions(s); the date of the convictions, the specific violations (cite the law if convicted...i googled it and cited it as a footnote), court location, sanctions or penalties imposed and completion dates. Also include what you have done since then regarding your rehabilitation and why you want to be an RN. I also included the roles of an RN to show that I know what my roles will be. Make the letter sincere and show how you have grown out of this experience.
Arrest/Incident reports: These are NOT court documents and you cannot get these at the court house. You literally have to go to the police station and request one; even then, they may not give you one. It cost like $8 for mine. Make sure it is stamped and/or signed
Certified Court Documents: You have to go to the court house in the county you were arrested/cited and get the documents from the office of records: It cost me $25 for each one (x3) plus a charge for the paper used to print them; so, this cost me like $79. Ouch
Evidence of Rehabilitation: Here I just put my documentation that I completed my probation, I got my record expunged, and some volunteering experience.
Reference Letters: These will take a while to get depending on the people you ask. I included 3 letters. One from a trauma nurse, one from my nursing supervisor, and one from a dentist that I know and that I have volunteered with in the past. Someone suggested that I get one from a nurse, one from a clergy member, and one from a political figure if possible but, I didn't really know the latter two people. I didn't need to include alcohol related letters because I didn't get a DUI, I only got an open container ticket. I wasn't actually drinking and driving but my friend was drinking in the car so that is how I got the ticket.
A work performance evaluation. This will take a while to get depending on your supervisor. This doesn't need to be nursing related but mine was because I've been working in a hospital for 1 1/2 years.
Waiting for a Reply:
I sent my completed application in on 12/5/12.
I got a letter 15 days later that said "An evaluation of your application for examination indicates that the following items and/or information are required to complete you application. Due to your disclosure of previous discipline or conviction, your application will require additional processing time. A FINAL DECISION REGARDING AN ENFORCEMENT CASE FILE CANNOT BE MADE WITHOUT THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS - REFER THE ENCLOSED NOTICE FOR DETAILS. If you have already addressed the checked item(s) above, please disregard this letter." Enclosed notice was this link: http://www.rn.ca.gov/pdfs/enforcement/appdocs.pdf
...but I thought I turned everything in. Well, actually I did but I guess they just sent this to confuse me.
I got a letter 15 days after that that scared the
oop: out of me at first but it turned out to be a good letter. It read:
"The board of registered nursing (Board) has completed its review of your conviction history. The conviction(s) you sustained is/are considered substantially related to the qualifications, functions or 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. However, when considering the denial, suspension or revocation of a license, the Board considers criminal history, mitigating or aggravating circumstances, evidence of rehabilitation and other criteria to evaluate the licensee's or applicant's present fitness or eligibility for licensure. The Board will not pursue any disciplinary action against you at this time. Your conviction history information has been reviewed and returned to the Licensing Unit to continue the licensure process. A licensed registered nurse is responsible for being honest and ethical. Future substantiated reports that you have engaged in similar behavior, been convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a registered nurse or otherwise violated the law or regulations governing you practice as a registered nurse may result in disciplinary action against you license."
I got my eligibility notice to take NCLEX 4 days later. YAY!!!
I took my NCLEX-RN and just found out I passed first try.
I hope this helps somebody out there. I know from experience how nerve-racking it can be to have prior convictions but, if you stick with it you can become a nurse. I wish you all the best of luck because nursing is truly the best profession in the world. Oh..and thanks Board for giving me a chance to be a Real Nurse.
California BRN Website: California Board of Registered Nursing
go to "Applicants" at the top, then go to "Licensure by Examination", then go to "Click here for additional information for applicants with criminal convictions or discipline"