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The Pre-Employment Background Check

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Many job-seeking candidates are mystified and left in the dark about the background check process. This piece discusses the contents of a typical third party pre-employment background check for nurses and other types of healthcare workers.

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

What do they look for in a background check?

The Pre-Employment Background Check

First of all, it is an extremely positive sign whenever any prospective employee reaches the point in the hiring process that involves initiation of the pre-employment background check. This is because third party background checks cost money, and employers generally do not want to spend this kind of money on a candidate whom they never intended to hire in the first place. Therefore, a prospective employee who is asked by human resources personnel to provide sufficient information for the background check might already have one foot in the door of the organization.

Many nurses and other types of healthcare workers have questions about the nebulous process of checking a prospective employee's background. Some of these questions may include the following:

  • What information does the background check include?
  • How long will the background check take?
  • What if I don't remember my exact dates of hire?

All of these questions will be answered shortly. Without further ado, the typical healthcare background check report for licensed nurses contains the following data:

Professional Nursing License Information

The job-seeking candidate is almost always asked to provide information regarding their nursing licensure, such as the license number, entity that issued it, and an expiration date. The background check report either verifies the information provided by the candidate, or reports any discrepancies. If the licensure information cannot be verified, the report will include the words "UNABLE TO VERIFY." Any license censures, such as warnings and suspensions executed by the state board of nursing, are recorded on the final report.

Verification of Diploma or Degrees Received

The third party background check company has staff members who verify the educational credentials that have been included on the employment application. Some background check companies verify only the highest degree conferred, whereas other companies want to verify all credentials. The background check uses databases such as the National Student Clearinghouse and Qualification Check to verify a candidate's degrees. In addition to the type of credential earned, the background check report includes the dates attended and the approximate date of degree completion.

Criminal Background Check at the Local Level

In order to conduct this type of check, the background check company requires candidates to list all the residences they have had in a ten-year period. The background check company's staff members contact the courthouses in the counties or parishes where these residences are located to confirm the presence or absence of any misdemeanor or felony records.

Validation of Social Security Number or National ID

The background check company's staff members verify that the provided social security number is issued to the candidate who applied for the position and not someone else. Also, the background check company staff ensures the that the social security number has not ever been in the death index. In addition, the state where the social security number was originally issued is listed, as well as the year it had been issued.

Employment Report

The staff members at the background check company verify the employment history information provided by the candidate against the information they receive from other sources. Some of these 'other' sources include HR reference checks and third party databases such as the Equifax. The starting and ending dates provided by the candidate are also compared against the starting and ending dates of employment yielded from databases and reference checks. If one of the candidate's former places of employment is now closed or defunct, (s)he might be asked to provide W2 forms or pay stubs to prove (s)he really had been employed at that workplace.

How Long Will the Background Check Take?

This depends on the vendor that conducts the background check, as well as the type of check requested by the prospective employer. The average completion time for most background checks is less than one week. By the way, HireRight and LexisNexis are several of the leading third party background check companies that healthcare employers utilize.

I Don't Remember Exact Dates of Hire

This is okay. As long as the data provided by the job-seeking candidate is close enough to the actual start date, all should be fine. Always remember that the third party background check company staff compares the information provided by the candidate against the information they yield from HR reference checking and/or third party verification systems such as the Talx Corporation.

Hence, if the start date provided by the candidate is January 19, 2021 and the HR reference provides a start date of February 7, 2021, the variance of a couple of weeks will not raise any major red flags. However, a start date provided by the job seeker that deviates from the start date given by the HR reference or third party verification database by several months or years might be viewed as deceptive or dishonest.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN, CRRN is a longtime physical rehabilitation nurse who has varied experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for more than four years prior to becoming a Registered Nurse.

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18 Comment(s)

emily34812

Has <1 years experience.

For those of you endorsing from other states hat had to send in a fingerprint card for the background check, how long did it take for it to process? There's a few variances in how long to expect on the website and I was just wondering what people's experiences were.

I got a minor in possession of alcohol charge from over 15 years ago and decided to run a background check on myself before applying to sit for NCLEX. I got fingerprinted and had a state and FBI background check completed. Nothing showed.

I am wondering if this has happened to anyone else. Did you not report it when applying and they found it? I am more so confused as to why it wouldn't show.

Persephone Paige, ADN

Has 15 years experience.

Your background check and their background check may not be the same at all. They have access to information that the AHCA background checks may not report. Never lie or omit... they always find out.

Silver_Rik, ASN, RN

Specializes in Perioperative / RN Circulator. Has 1 years experience.

Follow up question: if you disclose a conviction that does not show up on the background check can / will the BON still use it to deny or restrict a license?

Also, if one has had background checks done for: nursing school / clinicals, patient care work in a state psych hospital, work in a nursing home, and to obtain a gambling license to work in a casino or race track ... how likely is it that the BON is going to find something in your background that never came up on any of those background checks?

That is not something you should even worry about. Especially if you were a minor, they cant acces it anyways.

On 9/5/2018 at 9:05 PM, emily34812 said:

For those of you endorsing from other states hat had to send in a fingerprint card for the background check, how long did it take for it to process? There's a few variances in how long to expect on the website and I was just wondering what people's experiences were.

Hello Emily. Sorry nobody answered you. So how long have you waited for your background check? Asking as I’m waiting for mine 🙂

Hi, in October 2001, I was arrested for domestic violence. my lawyer advised me to do Nolo / no contest because it was my first arrest.. Now NYC sent me the ATT and I have a date to sit for the Nclex. they told me to take the exam before they take a decision to issue a license. my question is if for some reason I don't pass the Nclex the first time, will they give me the opportunity to take the test again? I am really nervous. Thank you

The court has to report it to have it on your fbi record. If you were a minor, they probably did not.

Silver_Rik, ASN, RN

Specializes in Perioperative / RN Circulator. Has 1 years experience.

On 7/14/2019 at 1:48 AM, KanTexLPN said:

The court has to report it to have it on your fbi record. If you were a minor, they probably did not.

Minor doesn’t necessarily mean juvenile (under 18). Minor in possession of alcohol is often charged against people 18-20 who are caught with alcohol, so it goes on their permanent adult record.

jlambirt

Has 3 years experience.

I did the same thing and paid for my own fingerprint background check. It shows my two charges from the military. I've never had anything show on an online search that employers perform. Since your fingerprint search came back clean, you're good. This isn't my opinion, it's fact. There's only a few databases that could've listed your charges and you've already checked them.

Lawyers and the military call this the idiot test. If it's impossible to to verify your record, don't disclose it. People will try to appeal to your sense of ethics or morals, but everyone lies on these.

Think about it...what's the benefit of getting charges dropped, expunged, or sealed if you plan on telling everyone about them?

AR-RN17, ADN

Has 2 years experience.

I’ve been in my contract for almost 2 months and had many interviews. I accepted a position at a new doctors office and have been going through the hiring process. I told them of my IPN status. I did not give them all the gory details (that I was diverting). It’s been 2 weeks since my background check (normally takes 5 business days. And HR said I am ‘still not cleared for hire’. I have a feeling it’s because the discipline and details are on my license and my license status states ‘obligations/active’. I feel like I’m never going to get a job with it all plastered on my license.

Any one else have any luck getting a job w/discipline on license and how did you go about it?

BlueBirdMentors, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac Surgical ICU / Critical care. Has 20 years experience.

That's a tough one.

I have followed several nurses in similar situations. What worked for some of them was total honesty about what happened and more than that, what you have learned from it and how that changed you. Hopefully it did...

You just need to find the one place that will give you a 2nd chance. Keep on looking, you will find it eventually.

Good luck, and don't give up.

chadprepton, ADN

Specializes in Telephonic and Addictions Nursing. Has 8 years experience.

Honestly at least for me it was not hard. Mind you, I wasn’t looking at hospital jobs. I told my employer what happened and why I got suspended. Then I explain how I’m not that nurse anymore. On every interview it wasn’t a problem. Hang in there.

AR-RN17, ADN

Has 2 years experience.

On 9/23/2019 at 10:45 AM, chadprepton said:

Honestly at least for me it was not hard. Mind you, I wasn’t looking at hospital jobs. I told my employer what happened and why I got suspended. Then I explain how I’m not that nurse anymore. On every interview it wasn’t a problem. Hang in there.

Just looking back at this and thought I’d tell you guys I ended up getting the job!:) been working over a month and I couldn’t be happier.

ExTiredRN

Specializes in Oncology.

One reprimand by the board ended my 25 year career. Not a suspension, not a revocation of license but simply a reprimand with no obligations, rehabilitation or enforced learning. I had an no restrictions on my license or practice. Simply a reprimand because I had the human frailty to curse once when I was assaulted by a patient and hurt. That’s all it took. Because the patient heard it. Wow. So, glad to hear everyone with what sounds like actual bad stuff was able to keep working, but for me it was the end of a outstanding career with a resume most would be impressed by. Not bragging, just trying to add understanding. I gave up trying for a new position after two humiliating years to anybody who thinks I didn’t try hard enough to be clear. I stopped trying because I felt betrayed by my profession. Why invest more time, blood, sweat and tears into a career where they throw healthcare workers away rather than fine facilities? Seriously cannot recommend Nursing as a career to anyone until you are allowed to wear a nurse body camera. Look at the rates of violence in the workplace. 75% happens in healthcare. Nobody told me that in nursing school or seem to even be aware while actively working. Don’t you think people might behave better if they knew they were being recorded? Staff, family, administrators and patients might actually act like they claim to when confronted rather than being able to lie. Currently I am pursuing a degree in Biochemistry, but have no intention of being a doctor. Many other applications that pay a lot more with far less risk. Good luck to all who like the risk.

The0Walrus, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 2 years experience.

Just like to say I got a hospital job in the psych unit and then 3 more offers with a reprimand with no limitations or suspension. On applications I never lie. It asks if I've ever been suspended which I click no. It asks if I've ever been placed in inactive I click no and have had a few offers. I work at a big state hospital. So it's possible. I think it depends on a lot of factors but there's a part of me that feels I lost a lot of options. In NY I have no reprimand though so I'm hoping I can get one of those bigger hospitals. Anyways it's possible to get a good job and at a hospital.