Are you filling out your RN License Application with a Past Conviction?

It’s that time of year again; classes are wrapping up, and student nurses are getting ready to fill out their RN license applications when they realize that they must disclose a past conviction to the BRN. This always causes a bit of panic because any misdemeanor that can be related to the practice of nursing is cause for the BRN to deny your RN license application. In order to ease some of your anxiety, I thought I would share some of the reasons student nurses have their applications denied and give you a few pointers on some things you can do to increase your chances of getting your license free and clear.


By FAR, the reason that student nurses most often have their RN license application denied is for an alcohol-related conviction. Typically, it is a DUI, but it can be a drunk in public, disturbing the peace, wet and reckless, or even a dry reckless if alcohol is mentioned in the arrest or police report, possession of a controlled substance, or any drug or medication-related conviction. The BRN will discipline a licensed RN for any alcohol or drug-related conviction, so it makes sense that you would have some issues with your RN license application if you have a drunk skeleton in your closet. 🙂


  1. The best thing you can do is have the conviction expunged. If the arrest or conviction is recent (less than 3 years) it will be in your interest to try to get the court to give an early termination of probation and an early expungement.
  2. Go to AA meetings or counseling. Anyone can say “I learned my lesson and I’ll never drink and drive again,” but an AA sign-in sheet or evaluation from a counselor is evidence of rehabilitation and goes a long way with the BRN.
  3. Get letters of recommendation and performance evaluations from your employer (does not have to be in the medical field) and anyone else who can write a character reference letter for you. It is more meaningful if they mention the conviction and state it is out of character for you.
  4. Make sure you have certified documents from the court for the conviction. If the records are too old (this is a good thing!) make sure to have the court give you a statement in writing that the records have been expunged and are no longer available.
  5. Get some professional help with the application and mitigation packet. Hiring an attorney who knows what they are doing when it comes to the BRN can mean the difference between getting the RN license free and clear upon applying or getting denied and starting out on probation.


Any conviction involving theft or fraud will cause problems for you with your RN license application. Follow the same steps mentioned in the previous WHAT YOU CAN DO section without the AA meetings.


  1. All alcohol-related convictions, INCLUDING INFRACTIONS, must be disclosed to the BRN.

  2. All other misdemeanor convictions are required to be disclosed to the BRN.

  3. All infractions with fines more than $1000.00 must be disclosed to the BRN.

  4. All expunged records, including deferred judgments or “set aside convictions” from other states must be disclosed!

You are required to write a letter of explanation and submit all requisite paperwork for every disclosure. Failure to properly disclose will guarantee denial of your license based on an attempt to “fraudulently procure a license.” Even if you get your license, it will be revoked later. Making sure that you include everything that is required and adequately explain your incident without saying too much or making things worse for yourself is critical.


Even though you may have been arrested, it does not mean you were convicted of a misdemeanor. Many arrests actually result in reductions in infractions. Many cases get dropped completely. If you were handcuffed and carted off in the back of a squad car, taken to jail, booked and fingerprinted, then went to court, were sentenced by a judge, and had to pay a huge fine and do community service, you were probably convicted of a misdemeanor, and you need to report it to the BRN. If you were given a ticket or fingerprinted and released and never went to court, you probably don’t have to worry about it. Make 100% sure that you are 100% sure of what should be disclosed or not. The last thing you want to do is disclose something you didn’t need to disclose. This can cause a delay in your application and may cause unnecessary denials or appeals of your license.


Once you have applied for your RN license and properly disclosed your past conviction or incident, there are a few ways this can go (listed from the best to the worst outcome):

  1. Your RN license application will be approved on its face, and you will be able to sit for your Boards.
  2. Your RN license application will be denied, and you will be given permission to sit for the NCLEX, but the results will not be released until you’ve appealed the denial.
  3. Upon appeal, you are given your RN license fee and clear with no restrictions.
  4. Upon appeal, you are given your RN license with a Letter of Public Reprimand.
  5. Upon appeal, you are given your RN license with Probation with a Rule Out Provision.
  6. Upon appeal, you are given your RN license with all 19 Probation requirements.*
  7. Upon appeal, you are denied your RN license and must wait a year to apply again.*

Numbers 7 and 8 are most often the result when RN applicants attempt to do this alone and handle the application and appeal themselves.



It takes 4- 6 weeks for the BRN to issue you your test date and approve your RN license application if there are no issues. If the license is going to be denied, this will take 8 to 12 weeks. From the time you let the BRN know you want to appeal the denial until you receive the Statement of Issues, it takes 4-6 months. The negotiation of the Statement of Issues takes 2 months, and then it will take the BRN another month to adopt the decision.

Please know that if you have a conviction or requisite issue to disclose and your license is denied and you must appeal, it will take almost a year for you to get your license. This is important to know, especially if you have a job offer on the table after graduation.

When RN students hire us, they can be assured that their application will contain everything required, the letter of explanation will be vetted by an attorney who knows the BRN, and that they have given themselves the best possible chance of getting their RN license free and clear out of the gates. We’ve had tremendous success in getting our student RNs unrestricted licenses, and we would be happy to help you too.

Please give me a call if you have questions about what needs to be disclosed or if you would like an opinion on the likely outcome in your specific case.