Should You Enter the BRN’s Diversion Program?
The answer to whether you are a good candidate for the California BRN’s diversion program will depend on who you ask. If you ask the BRN itself, or you ask the program provider’s at Maximus, they will tell you yes, OH YES!!!!!, you should certainly enroll in the Diversion program (as they greedily rub their hands together). If you ask anyone not affiliated with the program or if you ask past participants of the program, you may get mixed results. If you ask me, 99% of the time I will tell you h-e-double-hockey-sticks NO!

There are a few ways to determine whether the BRN’s diversion program is right for you and that starts by understanding WHAT the diversion program is intended to DO. Diversion is set up as an an alternative to formal discipline from the BRN; specifically geared toward nurses who have an alcohol, drug dependence, or mental health issue which is the underlying cause of a criminal arrest or conviction or precludes the nurse from being able to practice safely. The program in short, is designed to help you get into a mode of recovery and stay there.

If you are not a person who struggles with alcohol addiction, drug dependence or mental health issues that prevent safe practice, Diversion is not going to be right for you because you will have nothing from which you must “recover.” If you are a person who had one too many margaritas on Taco Tuesday, failed to properly chart or get a witness on a wasted Norco, or mentioned to a co-worker that you’ve “had it with [insert anything from Patient C to your marriage or kids],” and they took it totally the WRONG WAY, diversion is not going to be a good fit for you. You don’t have a problem, you made a less than great choice.

I think it also helps you decide if you should enter the BRN’s diversion program if you know what the “program” itself entails and requires. It is an intensive program akin to out-patient rehab where you must meet often and regularly with a monitor, call in daily and then go in for random drug screens and attend AA or NA meetings (90 meeting/ 90 days) and other support groups. You must also shell out about $400- $500/ month to comply with aforementioned requirements. Because diversion is so time consuming, you may not work as a nurse for an initial period of time. Your RN license is deactivated the second you enroll. The Maximus intake people will tell you that this is only for a short period of time, usually 3 months. I have NEVER heard of a license being reactivated in any less than 6 months and have seen RN’s still waiting for reactivation after 18 months. It depends on your probation monitor and how well they think you have “recovered,” meaning it is totally arbitrary and can be a really long time, but rarely, if ever, is it less than 6 months.

Finally, I think it helps for you to decide WHY you would enter the program in the first place. If you are entering the program because you have an alcohol or drug problem and you need a program and you also need that dependence to not negatively impact your RN license, then go for it: you are precisely the person for whom diversion was designed. If you are entering the program to avoid having your license revoked for a DUI or an accusation of charting errors or discrepancies at work, there are a plethora of options available to you other than JUST Diversion (like my team of attorneys, for example!) If you are entering Diversion to avoid having a criminal conviction discovered by a current or future employer, keep in mind that criminal convictions are 100% public record available for discovery by anyone and everyone until expunged. Further, what is the present employer going to think if you take 4- 6 months off work and then come back but have to be under strict monitoring and work restrictions? They will probably figure it out.

Whether or not you should enter the BRN’s Diversion Program is an intensely personal choice and one that only you can make. However, I think it should be made with full disclosure of the facts, so you know what you are getting yourself into and not based on the fear mongering that the BRN relies upon when they send you their nasty little Diversion Letter. At the end of the day, or course only you can decide; but if you would like to discuss the program in more detail, would like additional answers to your questions, or would like an opinion on what will happen in your specific case if you elect NOT to enroll in the BRN’s diversion program, give me a call. I will happily dish all I know about the program and give an open and honest evaluation of your situation based on our handling of thousands of cases, just like yours.

(There is also a great deal of info regarding the diversion program, including the programs pros and cons, elsewhere on this blog.)