What RNs Can Expect During BRN Probation

There are up to 20 probation requirements that the BRN can impose on a RN who is going to be on probation.

The language of the probation order itself can be a bit misleading so I want to make sure it is clear. Nurses often are relieved to find they’ve been able to keep their RN licenses on a probationary status in lieu of revocation of the license, only to panic when they read the order. This is how it will read:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Registered Nurse License Number XXXX issued to Respondent is revoked. However, the revocation is stayed and respondent is placed on probation for 2-5 years on the following conditions.

Understandable panic, right? But read the whole thing. The revocation of the license is stayed; that means that as long as the nurse completes probation, the revocation will not take effect. In essence, this is just a convoluted legal way of saying “you’re on probation and you have to do all this stuff instead of having your license revoked.” Whew! Ok good! That’s what we were going for 🙂

Here are the requirements of probation and following are all of the probation requirements explained.

1) Obey all Laws

2) Comply With Board’s Probation Program

3) Report in Person

4) Residency or Practice Outside of State

5) Submit Written Reports

6) Function as a Registered Nurse

7) Employment Approval and Reporting Requirements

8) Supervision

9) Employment Limitations

10) Complete a Nursing Course(s)

11) Cost Recovery (Does not apply to Applicants)

12) Violation of Probation

13) License Surrender14) Physical Examination

*15) Participate in Treatment/Rehabilitation Program for Chemical Dependence

*16) Abstain From Use of Psychotropic (Mood-Altering) Drugs

*17) Submit to Tests and Samples

*18) Mental Health Examination

*19) Therapy or Counseling Program

*20) Actual Suspension of License

Probation requirements 1-13 are non-negotiable. If you are an RN and you have settled for, or accepted probation in lieu of license revocation, you are going to have to comply with 1-13. Most of the probation requirements are simple to comply with, while others can be problematic. #1 and #2 are self-explanatory: don’t get in trouble again and do what the BRN tells you to do, while you’re on probation.

#3 Report in Person means that you must report to your assigned probation monitor, and occasionally, this must be in person. The BRN will contact you once probation has been adopted and assign a probation monitor to you. This person is monitoring 100 + other nurses so they do not have time to proactively reach out to you, or let you know exactly what you need to be doing every day. It will be your responsibility to find out from them what they want from you and how they want it and then make it happen. If you don’t get along with this person, that is unfortunate, since you cannot switch and they direct your life for the next 3 years, so… play nice.

#4 Residency or Practice Outside of State means that your probation does not count if you are not residing and complying within California. If you leave California, your probation will toll until you return.

#5 Submit Written Reports means you and your employer must submit written reports to the BRN. The employer’s responsibility is minimal, reports are due quarterly and is typically just your performance evaluations attached to a short form. This is one of the reasons that employers are reluctant to hire RNs on probation, but often, if you are forthcoming about the minimal amount of work that is actually required, that helps.

#6 Function as a Registered Nurse means you must work as an RN in a job that requires a RN license. You must work a minimum of 24 hours per week for 6 consecutive months in order to meet this requirement. This is problematic only for nurses who are not residing in California (see number 4) or who have challenges finding a job on their probationary status. If for some reason you are not able to secure a job as an RN in the 3 years of probation, the BRN may extend your probation to allow you to comply with this requirement. Volunteer positions requiring an RN license count toward this requirement and often, if the RN is a newly licensed nurse or the accusation is especially damning, this is a good option.

#7 Employment Approval and Reporting Requirements means that the BRN must approve your job. If you are currently employed when you begin probation, be aware that you may have to take some time off while the BRN approves your job. For those RNs applying for new job on probation, be aware that your approval is in the hands of your probation monitor, so as I said before- play nice!

#8 Supervision means that you must be supervised while on probation. For DUIs, this level of supervision is almost always the minimum amount required, meaning that you only have to check in with a supervisor twice during each shift. For 99% of nurses working in a hospital, this is something that you do as part of your job anyway. This does not mean that you have to have a babysitter or return to a preceptor situation. If you touch base with your charge nurse or physician 2 times, you’re good. For nurses on probation for diversion or charting errors or patient care issues, this supervision requirement might be increased and you may have to check in more frequently. This requirement is the other reason that nurses find it difficult to get hired on probation, but like with the reporting requirement, if you explain to the potential employer that it isn’t a babysitting job, they may be more likely to hire you. Finally, you may NOT work in a position that requires you to supervise other nurses, like a charge nurse position or as a Director of Nursing.

#9 Employment Limitations means you may not work for a nurse’s registry, in any private duty position as a registered nurse, a temporary nurse placement agency, as a traveling nurse, or

for an in-house nursing pool. You may not work as a home health nurse unless approved by the BRN and probation monitor, as a private duty nurse, or as an instructor or faculty member for a nursing school. You cannot work in a float capacity and you must get approval from the afore mentioned probation monitor to work more than 40 hours per week.

#10 Complete a Nursing Course(s) these are just your required CE courses.

#11 Cost Recovery (Does not apply to Applicants) means that you have to pay the BRN back for the money they spent investigating you, for their attorneys’ time filing the accusation against you and time for negotiating with your lawyer, in addition to the cost of the hearing, if you go. What the WHAT?!?! Yes, it’s true. You have to pay the BRN for the hell they just put you through! Fair? Absolutely not. Required as a term of your probation? Yes. The silver lining is that you have the entire term of probation to pay them their blood money and we are always able to reduce the fines and fees through our representation of you.

#12 Violation of Probation means don’t do it. Comply with everything you are required to do.

#13 License Surrender means that if you decide you’ve had it and would just rather surrender your license because you are retiring from nursing, or no longer want to be a nurse, or you have violated probation, the BRN may allow you to do so. That’s nice of them. They may also refuse to accept your surrender and revoke your probation and therefore, your license. Further, if you do surrender, it counts as disciplinary action against your license. If you decide later that oops – you shouldn’t have surrendered and want the license back, you must wait 2 years before you can petition for reinstatement. More on that here.

*This is the end of the mandatory, non-negotiable probation requirements. Those that follow are negotiable and only apply in diversion or alcohol related cases. The following are also what we are able to have removed in what is known as “a rule out provision”.

#14 Physical Examination means that you need to go get a physical exam so that a BRN approved doctor can determine if you are physically healthy enough to practice and to confirm that you are not exhibiting any physical manifestations of drug or alcohol abuse. This is at your own expense or may be covered by your insurance. This must be done within 45 days. Do not wait until the last minute to schedule this, as these doctors are inundated with patients and schedules fill up quickly. Pestering your probation monitor with complaints that you couldn’t get a timely appointment do not go over well.

#15 Participate in Treatment/Rehabilitation Program for Chemical Dependence means that you must attend a minimum of 1 but not more than 5 AA or NA meetings and 1 BRN approved nurse support group, per week. You must have your attendance signed off on. You must do this for a minimum of 6 months and these requirements must be completed within 9 months of beginning probation. You must pay for your nurse support group classes. These are typically about $40.00 per class. If you completed a court mandated program requiring the same or similar, please be advised that this DOES NOT COUNT toward the BRNs requirements. It must be done separately.

#16 Abstain From Use of Psychotropic (Mood-Altering) Drugs and Alcohol. Nurses who are on prescribed medication often panic when they see this requirement. This is one of the few probation requirements for alcohol or drug use that differs greatly from the BRN’s diversion program. You can continue to take your prescribed medication while you are on probation as long as you take it as prescribed and your probation monitor and a Doctor at the BRN is aware. You will be subjected to many random drug tests throughout the duration of your probation, so please make sure to be careful with this requirement.

#17 Submit to Tests and Samples. This is the most restrictive and expensive condition of probation. This is also the requirement that nurses fail most often, causing their licenses to be revoked.

You must sign up with a company called First Lab. You must call in to First Lab every single day of your probation. First Lab will notify you randomly that you must come in for a random urine test. These tests can occur as many as 3 times a week and you must pay for them each time at about $85 to $100 a pop. If you go on vacation, you must first get permission from your probation monitor and you must locate a lab at your destination, in case you have to go test.

If you fail to call in, it is considered a violation of probation and probation can be revoked. If your sample is diluted, it will count as a dirty test and it is considered a violation of probation and probation can be revoked. If you eat something that you shouldn’t that has alcohol in it, it will count as a dirty test and it is considered a violation of probation and probation can be revoked. If your prescribed medication is showing at levels different than what they should be, it is considered a violation of probation and probation can be revoked.

You will be provided with a list of things you cannot eat and how to make sure that you have enough protein in your system to give a valid sample. I cannot stress enough that you must be absolutely 100% compliant and 100% perfect with this probation requirement. As few as 2 failed calls or dirty tests or dilutes can result in violation of probation and revocation or your license. Got it? You’ll be perfect right? Ok good… onward.

************Promise that you will not mess up on number 17!!! I just want to make sure we are crystal clear on this one :-)************

#18 Mental Health Examination. Just like the physical exam, and for the same purpose, you must be evaluated by a BRN approved psychiatrist, psychologist or other licensed mental health Practitioner. Of course, like everything else, this too is on your own dime or covered by your own insurance. This also must be done with 45 days. I’ve been told that the mental health examiners appointments are even more difficult to schedule, so make sure to jump on this. The mental health examiner may require you to attend counseling or therapy, but I don’t think any of our clients have actually had to do this. Just be aware, it is a possibility. See number 19.

#19 Therapy or Counseling Program means that following your mental health evaluation, you may be required to attend counseling or therapy and will be required to do so until your counselor deems it unnecessary. This is very rare.

Drum roll please…. Finally #20. Actual Suspension of License. The BRN can require that your RN license be suspended for a period of time as a condition of probation. This has occurred only once, in the thousands of cases that we have defended, so it is highly unlikely. In the instance where our client did have a suspended license, the suspension was for 6 months. It cannot by law, be more than one year.


Probation almost always lasts for three years. It is incredibly rare that we are able to reduce it to 2 years and equally rare that it extends to 5, but both can happen. After a year of perfect compliance with number 17, you can request that the testing requirement be removed. After 2 years of perfect compliance, you may petition the BRN for early termination of probation, but this is kind of an unattainable carrot. Remember how long it took the BRN to file your Accusation? Remember how long it took the BRN to negotiate and approve your probation? Remember how difficult it was to get answers from them about what doctor to go see and how to schedule the appointment? Oh, right… By the time the 2 years are up and you can apply for the early termination, it takes the BRN another 6 -8 months to get around to reading your petition, and they may deny it. So, realistically know this: if you have 3 years of probation, you’re going to be on probation for three years.

The other thing you need to know about probation is that as much as we would like to be able to lock in some of these variable requirements for you during settlement negotiations or at the Hearing, we cannot, the BRN doesn’t allow it. Your attorneys have no control over whether you will be subject to the minimum or maximum level of supervision or if you will be approved for more than 40 hours a week. Once you are placed on probation, your probation and the nuances of the individual requirements are dictated by the BRN and your probation monitor (remember to play nice?… this is why.)

If this 5 page novella failed to adequately explain the terms of your probation requirements, or if you have specific questions, please do not ever hesitate to call me. RN Guardian is committed to your RN license and to your career as a nurse. It is our passion and our career to make sure that YOURS goes as smoothly as possible following adverse action against your license. We are here to protect you from here on out- we’re in it for the long haul. It is my hope that you will keep me in the loop on probation, keep me posted on new developments and keep in touch! Don’t be a stranger, pop in to Facebook every once in a while, and say hi or send me a text.

Here as your advocate and as an asset to you,