I have misdemeanors, that I am going to try to expunge from my record. However, I am I registered narcotics offender. Will that still show on a background check? I was told it only is for police record. Is that correct? Also, if it does show me as a registered narcotics offender am I eligible to go to nursing school? And to get my RN license?
Whether you will be admitted to school due to your convictions will likely be up to the individual institution to which you apply. Your potential licensing as an RN is regulated by the CA Board of Registered Nurses. I have had multiple clients who were nurses or were awaiting their license while facing criminal prosecution and they were allowed to enter or continue in the RN field but did have to go through some hoops with the nursing board. Check their website for further information.
While it would definitely be advisable to proceed with the expungement process, you absolutely want to inquire of one of the advisors from the program that you will be attending about the difficulty that you may experience down the road in terms of licensing. It will most definitely come up when you apply for the license.
I am an employment attorney who has represented a number of clients in medical licensing cases who have similar backgrounds to yours. You should not have any problem with the school, but your license, at least initially, may be marked in a way that makes it difficult to get a job. The nursing shortage may work in your favor, however.
In one case (not an RN but a different non-physician medical license), my client had multiple convictions for drug possession and prostitution. I don't recall all the details of this particular case: I do not think the client was ever convicted of drug sales. The client was at the very top of her graduating class, had "found religion" and had numerous letters of support from her church and school, passed through all the licensing hoops, and then found herself facing a board that refused to license her. Through my intervention, the licensing board agree to grant her a license but required her to attach to it, and show all prospective employers, a document called an Accusation. The Accusation was a summary of my client's criminal history and stated that her license was conditioned on her showing the Accusation to prospective employers. The form of the Accusation was just that -- accusatory -- and would have been a huge obstacle to my client finding a job in her field.
In another non-physician licensing case, my client had a criminal history of theft and embezzlement. The licensing agency granted my client a probationary license but did not require him to show any documentation to prospective employers.
So my suggestion is that before you spend the time an money on pursuing this field, you speak with an attorney who represents clients in licensing matters. Spending $1,000-2,000 now is wiser than spending years of your life and even more money pursuing a career that is out of your reach. I suggest an excellent licensing attorney who is a frequent contributor on Avvo: Christine McCall . Her area of practice is licensing. She is located in Pasadena, not too far to drive to find out what you really need from a highly-respected, experienced attorney in http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/91101-ca-christin... field.
I practice professional and occupational licensing law in California and, at times, as much as half of my case load is comprised of BRN (Board of Registered Nursing) cases. BRN underwent a major transformation about three years ago when our prior governor declared war on R.N.'s after an "expose" in the Los Angeles Times about lax procedures and a backlog of many years in RN disciplinary matters. Overnight, all of the BRN Board members and the Executive Director were fired. New appointees saw the handwriting on the wall and BRN has been a very different agency ever since. Then, 2 years ago, BRN was allowed by the state legislature to expire ("sunset") -- literally fade from existence on 12/31 at midnight -- because of some administrative and power-struggle issues. Non-existence lasted only a few weeks but, again, BRN quickly that the political arms of state government are willing to play "chicken" for real, and BRN has been among the most rigid and unyielding of state licensing agencies ever since. I tell you this history so that you will understand why I do not put much stock in the experience of attorneys who do not regularly practice before BRN (and other state licensing agencies, especially Dept of Consumer Affairs agencies). Plainly put, BRN is a wholly different institution over the last 3 years, and the differences are very unfortunate for licensees and license applicants.
The introduction of BRN "diversion" is likely the most conspicuous, significant, and draconian "accomplishment" of the new BRN, and I encourage you to read about it on BRN's web-site. My law firm does not EVER recommend BRN diversion, but for persons with a history such as yours, it is exceedingly unlikely that diversion can be avoided. BRN diversion can last as much as 10 years and then still fail. It is expensive, time-consuming, Sisyphean, and leaves the nurse utterly powerless in the effort to repair, re-start, and re-shape the R.N. career.
Your post is silent on most of the critical factual issues that bear on whether you can be licensed. How long ago were your narcotic offenses? Have you succeeded at in-patient rehab? How long ago? What is you on-going treatment? Without these kinds of details, I can't assess whether you can ultimately obtain the RN license (and neither can any other responders here). The decision is always based on the applicant's specific circumstances. But I must tell you I am pessimistic for your prospects, and it is my expectation that you will inevitably be forced to accept a probationary restricted license to begin with -- if BRN will allow even that. That can make RN employment very hard to come by because the major health-care facilities are covered by insurance that precludes hiring employees with restricted (probationary) licenses. And irregular employment such as home health care is prohibited to probationary RN's. And regular RN employment is required of probationary licensees. Yes, it is a genuine Catch-22.
Lesser nursing schools will admit you no matter what your record. 2 mercy-killing murders? No problem! But permission to take the NCLEX (national exam) and then obtaining the RN license is based strictly on BRN judgment and has nothing to do with what the for-profit nursing schools will tell you. Do not rely on ANY info from ANY of the schools. The record is abundantly clear that they cannot be relied on to fairly advise potential students of the hurdles that will be faced by those whose history will have problems in obtaining the license.
In your case it would be wise to schedule a consultation with an attorney who practices before BRN and other DCA licensing agencies (Dept of Consumer Affairs). That consultation will cost you about $500, but it may save you years of effort and thousands in tuition that may not deliver what you want. Or it may show that your plan is sound and your educational/career path is clear, requiring only determination and persistence.
In all events, best of success to you.
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