The California Board of Registered Nursing has recently changed the name of its diversion program to the BRN Intervention Program, but make no mistake, it is the exact same thing. I am going to go out on a limb and take credit for the name change, since I inundated the web with my posts on the pitfalls of the Diversion program 🙂 I’m on to you BRN, now I am going to start dishing on the BRN Intervention Program and you may have to change your name again 🙂
WHAT IS THE BRN INTERVENTION PROGRAM ACCORDING TO THE BRN?
Taken from the BRN’s own website, this is what the BRN Intervention program is: The Intervention Program is a voluntary, confidential program for registered nurses whose practice may be impaired due to substance use disorder or mental illness. The goal of the Intervention Program is to protect the public by early identification of impaired registered nurses and by providing these nurses access to appropriate intervention programs and treatment services. Public safety is protected by suspension of practice, when needed, and by careful monitoring of the nurse. http://www.rn.ca.gov/intervention/whatisint.shtml Well, how nice of the BRN, that all sounds lovely! Let’s debunk this lovely, little description, shall we?
WHAT IS THE BRN INTERVENTION PROGRAM, REALLY?
LICENSE DEACTIVATION UPON ENROLLMENT
The BRN Intervention program is outsourced by the BRN to a company called Maximus. When the RN contacts the BRN and self-reports substance abuse, diversion or mental health issue, the BRN turns that information over to Maximus and Maximus calls the nurse for the intake process in the BRN Intervention Program. Maximus is also notified by the BRN any time a RN has been arrested for DUI or other alcohol related charges like domestic violence or disturbing the peace. If the nurse enrolls in the BRN intervention program her license is immediately deactivated. Now wait a minute… in the BRN’s own description says “suspension of practice, when needed.” Trust me, they ALWAYS think it is needed, it happens in every single case I have ever come across.
Sure, this is the biggest draw of the BRN Intervention Program; the underlying issue stays confidential, otherwise why in G’s name would anyone in their right mind subject themselves to it? But it only stays confidential under the strictest set of circumstances. An arrest is public record and a conviction certainly is, so in that case, it is not confidential, everyone will already know. There is careful monitoring of the nurse, meaning that the person doing the careful monitoring is going to know the nurse is in the BRN Intervention Program, so that isn’t really confidential, is it? The facility employing the nurse will know that the nurse is in the BRN Intervention Program, so that isn’t really confidential. What the BRN means is that the underlying issue does not get published in an Accusation and attached to the RN’s license on Breeze. That is what they mean by “confidential.”
The BRN Intervention Program is 100% voluntary, says so right there in the description, but you would never know it if you received a call from Maximus or an “offer letter” from the BRN. In the letter the BRN tries to frighten nurses into enrolling in the Intervention Program by telling them that if they don’t, the matter will be investigated. I have yet to see a Invervention program offer that clearly states in the letter that the program is voluntary. If you get a call, it is the same. The Maximus intake person tells you that if you don’t enroll over the phone, they are turning you over to BRN enforcement. That sounds like coercion to me, but whatever. It certainly does not leave the impression that it is voluntary.
The BRN Intervention Program is modeled after 12 step programs and requires total immersion in the first few months; this is the reasoning behind the deactivation of the RN license. The RN cannot possibly comply with the treatment program and still work. 90 meetings in 90 days. Mandatory attendance at nurse support groups. Sign up and daily call ins to First Lab and random urine screens, as often as 3 times a week. Maximus can also require inpatient treatment. The BRN will tell you that your license will be likely reinstated to active status after 3 months. DEBUNKED! I have never heard of a reactivation before 6 months and typically, it is around 9-12 but can be as long as 3 years. And you have to pay for all of this… did I fail to mention that? Huh, so did the BRN in their description. Yes, you have to pay for the support groups, First lab, the calls and the urine tests, which add up to about $500.00/ month. That’s hard to manage with no job and living expenses.
WHO IS THE INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR, ACCORDING TO THE BRN?
Again, from their own website http://www.rn.ca.gov/intervention/whatisint.shtml:
Who is Eligible?
Registered Nurses who:
- are licensed and reside in California
- are mentally ill or abuse alcohol or drugs to the extent that their nursing practice may be affected
- voluntarily agree to enter the program and provide consent for appropriate medical or psychiatric evaluations
- Registered Nurses are ineligible for the program if they have:
- previously been disciplined by the Board for substance abuse or mental illness
- been terminated previously from this program or any other intervention program for non-compliance
- diverted controlled substances for sale
- caused patient harm or death
WHO IS THE INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR, REALLY?
It is for anyone who is willing to pay to be in it. Remember what I said at the beginning? The BRN outsources this to a company, not a non-profit, not a free government program, a company that depends on people paying them. So it is certainly in Maximus’s best interest to take anyone and everyone. You got arrested for a DUI after 1 too many margaritas on Taco Tuesday but you don’t hardly ever drink? Sure! You’re a great candidate for the program! You have a personal issue that you took time off of work to resolve but are dealing with some residual depression, certainly you are mentally ill enough to join! You got in an argument at your own home with your spouse and someone overreacted and called the police and someone had to be taken in? Certainly, you can enroll in intervention!
I suppose theoretically that can’t just take ANYONE, but I have yet to hear of them turning a nurse down.
So, that is the BRN’s Intervention Program in a nutshell. It is an unattainable carrot of confidentiality hung out there for desperate nurses to try to grab hold of to save their RN licenses and careers. It is a sham of a treatment program that often causes more harm to the nurse than good. It is a money-making enterprise and regardless of what they are calling it these days, the BRN intervention program is a pot calling the kettle black. It is still Diversion and a rose by this other name still stinks.
If you’ve stumbled upon this article, you are researching the BRN Intervention Program and I do not want to dissuade someone from joining the program who could really benefit from it. However, I do want nurses to have all the information that they possibly can before making a decision that is going to so adversely impact their nursing career and their lives. All flippancy aside, if you have been offered the BRN’s Intervention Program or are thinking of self-reporting and simply want to discuss your unique case before making a decision, please call me. I will be happy to listen to the details of your case, offer you an honest opinion of the potential outcome with the BRN and if possible, offer you an alternative to Invention.