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Diversion Frequently Asked Questions

Is This Program Right For Me?

What About Working?

Confidentiality?

Cost and Time of Program?

Diversion Evaluation Committee?

Program Contractor?

Miscellaneous?

1. Does a court ordered Diversion Program take the place of the BRN's Diversion Program?
A court ordered diversion program does not take the place of the BRN's Diversion Program.

2. Do I have to enter the BRN's Diversion Program if I plan to obtain treatment on my own?
The Diversion Program is voluntary. We recognize that there are many great treatment programs available. However, they do not take the place of the BRN's Diversion Program. If we have received a complaint, we will offer you the opportunity to enter our Diversion Program. If you do not accept, the complaint will be investigated. If you do accept our program, a Diversion Evaluation Committee (DEC) will want to know about any programs you have entered or completed, so they can determine what other elements to include in a treatment plan they develop for you. For example if you have completed an in-patient treatment program, the committee may mandate completion of an aftercare program in addition to 12 step meetings, nurse support group meetings, etc. If you are currently in a treatment program, we recommend that you continue to participate in that program.

3. If I was successful in completing the BRN's Diversion Program previously, am I still eligible to participate in the program again?
Yes, RNs who have successfully completed the BRN's Diversion Program are eligible to participate in the program again. A DEC will, however, determine if you are accepted into the program.

4. I am licensed in another state and participate in their Diversion Program. I am thinking about transferring to California. Can I automatically transfer to California's Diversion Program while I am in the process of obtaining a California license?
Nurses who are participating in another State's Diversion Program and not yet licensed in California are not eligible to participate in California's Diversion Program. By law, an RN must be licensed and residing in California in order to be eligible to participate. Once a California license is obtained, however, we can communicate with the state you are from (with the written permission of the nurse) and inform that state about your progress in California's program. Please check with your state to make sure you can transfer to another state and still be in compliance with their program. Note: there is nothing on California's application, which would require you to disclose that you are in another state's diversion program as long as your participation in that program is not considered discipline.

5. I am an LVN. Can I Participate in the BRN's Diversion Program?
By law, only Registered Nurses are eligible to participate in the BRN's Diversion Program. However, LVNs may want to attend nurse support group meetings if they are experiencing a problem with chemical dependency or mental illness. Please refer to the nurse support group listing on this website for information on where those groups meet and how to contact the facilitator.

6. I have had one DUI, is this program for me?
The Diversion Program is a program designed to help those who have a substance use or abuse disorder. Statistics have proven that just because a person has had one DUI does not necessarily mean that an individual hasnít been driving under the influence before, or that he or she doesn't have a problem--it may mean that this was the only time the individual was caught. Only you know what is going on in your life. If you choose not to enter the program, any complaints we have received will be investigated. If you choose to enter the Diversion Program you will follow an individual rehabilitation plan.

7. I only diverted one time, is this program for me?
This is a voluntary program and we cannot mandate that anyone enter the program. The Diversion Program is not a place to avoid discipline for a one-time error, but it is a place to receive help for a problem. If the BRN receives a complaint that you have diverted from the workplace, you will be given the opportunity to enter the program. If you do not choose to enter the program, we will need to investigate any complaints we have received to determine if disciplinary action should be taken. Only you know what is going on in your life. You will need to make a decision as to whether or not this is a program for you.

8. How do I know if I am eligible to participate in the Diversion Program?
The BRN will always check your eligibility prior to your entry into the Program.

You are eligible for the Diversion Program if:

  • You are licensed and residing as an RN in California
  • You are mentally ill or abuse alcohol or drugs to the extent that your nursing practice may be affected
  • You voluntarily agree to enter the program and provide consent for appropriate medical or psychiatric evaluations

You are ineligible for the Diversion Program if:

  • You have been previously disciplined by the Board for chemical dependency or mental illness
  • You have been terminated previously from this program or any other diversion program for non-compliance
  • You have sold drugs
  • You have caused patient harm or death

9. Will I need to stop working if I decide to enter the Diversion Program?
Yes. When you are first entering the Program, you must stop practicing until either a clinical assessment or a DEC determines that you are safe to practice. This can be done only after enough information has been obtained to make that determination.

10. How long will I be off work if I decide to enter the Diversion Program?
The length of time an RN will be off work is very individualized. DECs make the determination on a case-by-case basis. This is a way of providing for immediate intervention and ensuring that the goal of public protection is being achieved. This is also a time for you to focus on recovery, which will greatly assist you in returning to work safely. In addition, the return to work will be a gradual progression. When you are allowed to return to work, there will be restrictions to your practice. Those restrictions may include, but are not limited to, non-patient care, no nights, no access to drugs, no home health, not to be the only RN on duty, and a limit on the number of hours you may work. As you progress in recovery, the restrictions are lifted until by the end of the program, there are no restrictions to your practice. You must also have a work site monitor in place prior to returning to work. This monitor must be someone in a supervisory capacity who will be able to assess how you are doing when you return to work and prepare quarterly reports for the DEC.

11. How will my employer be notified that I am participating in the Diversion Program?
Due to the confidentiality of the Diversion Program, neither the BRN nor the Diversion Program Contractor can legally notify employers that RNs are participating in the program. It will be up to you to notify your employer that you are participating in the Diversion Program and that you are required to stop practicing until it is determined that you are safe to practice. Once you are accepted into the program, you may sign a release form authorizing your case manager to communicate with your employer.

12. How will I be able to survive financially if I cannot work?
Please know that many nurses who have entered the Diversion Program have experienced financial hardships. Some have been able to get assistance by obtaining disability during this time. Financial counseling is also available through our Contractor. In addition, nurses who enter the Program will be referred to nurse support groups. At these meetings, you will be able to network with other nurses to discuss ways in which you may be able to cope with financial difficulties. You may also be able to obtain work outside of nursing (although, many nurses have found that they need to take this time off to focus on their recovery.) Also, many nurses face the possibility of losing their license if they do not enter this program and that would be more of a financial hardship in the long run. Keep in mind that we believe that chemical dependency is a disease, which if left untreated could be fatal. Who will provide for your family then?

13. Will anyone be able to determine that I am participating in the Diversion Program if they contact the BRN?
By law, the Diversion Program is confidential. Anyone contacting the BRN will not be able to determine if an RN is participating in the program. In addition, they will not be able to determine if an RN was successful or unsuccessful in the program.

14. Will my name appear in the BRN Newsletter if I enter the Diversion Program?
No. The Diversion Program is an alternative to disciplinary action. The BRN only publishes the names of those nurses whose licenses have been disciplined by the Board. Many of those nurses were not eligible for the program, did not choose to enter the program, or were unsuccessful in completing the program and their licenses were subsequently disciplined.

15. How much does it cost to participate in the BRN's Diversion Program?
Nurses in the Diversion Program pay $25.00 per month to help defray the cost of the Program. This fee begins when the RN is accepted into the Program by a Diversion Evaluation Committee and is collected by the Diversion Program Contractor. In addition, participants must pay for any costs related to their rehabilitation plan determined such as, drug testing, treatment, psychiatric or medical evaluations, and nurse support group attendance.

16. How long will I be in the Diversion Program?
The average length of time is 2 to 4 years for RNs to successfully complete the program.

17. What is a Diversion Evaluation Committee?
Pursuant to statute, the BRN has the authority to establish Diversion Evaluation Committees (DECs). Each committee is composed of three registered nurses, one physician and one public member who are all appointed by the Board for their expertise in chemical dependency and/or mental illness. There are currently 14 DECs throughout the state. The DECs are responsible for recommending which applicants will be admitted to the program, establishing rehabilitation contracts for participants, monitoring participants' compliance and determining when participants will be successfully completed or terminated unsuccessfully from the program. DEC decisions are final.

18. Where will I have to go to attend Diversion Evaluation Committee meetings?
There are 14 DECs throughout California. When you enter the program, you will be assigned to a committee that is as geographically close as possible to the city in which you reside. The DECs will decide how frequently you will meet with them. For example, after your initial meeting with this committee, they may schedule you to be seen in three months, six months, nine months or one year. In between DEC meetings you are fulfilling the requirements of your rehabilitation plan within your community if possible. Any self-help or nurse support group meetings that a DEC requires you to attend will usually be geographically close to the community in which you reside.

19. What do you mean by the Diversion Program Contractor?
The Board of Registered Nursing has the authority to contract out for the implementation of the Diversion Program. The Board of Registered Nursing, however, has administrative oversight of the Program. The current contractor is MAXIMUS.

20. Who should I call to enter the Diversion Program?
The BRN contracts out with a private entity to monitor RNs in the program. The current contractor is MAXIMUS. Please call MAXIMUS at 1-800-522-9198 if you are interested in participating in this program.

21. Am I mandated to report a nurse whom I suspect is diverting drugs or using drugs?
Filing a complaint is not mandatory; however, it is critical to ensure safe quality care in California. To learn more about filing a complaint, please refer to the information contained on this website under the Enforcement Program.

22. Am I treated differently if I refer myself to the program versus waiting for a complaint to be filed?
Nurses enter the program in two ways: Self-referrals (the BRN does not have a complaint on file and the nurse is referring themselves to the program), and Board-referrals (the BRN has received a complaint and the nurse has been offered the opportunity to participate in the program). Once in the program, either type of referral is treated according to their recovery needs, not because of how they were referred to the program.

23. Can I withdraw from the Diversion Program at any time?
Since the Diversion Program is a voluntary program, an RN may withdraw from the program at any time. However, a DEC will determine your status at the time of withdrawal. For example, if you have been non-compliant and want to withdraw from the program, the DEC will terminate you for non-compliance at the time of withdrawal. This means that if you want to return to the program in the future, you will not be eligible. If the BRN has a complaint on file, it will be investigated. In addition, if a DEC determines that you are a threat to yourself or others at the time of termination, they will advise the BRN, who will then proceed with an investigation even if you were a self-referral to the program.