How a Criminal History Can Affect the Licensure Process



Applying for a license or certificate in Oregon involves several steps.  One step that can prolong the approval process is the criminal background check (CBC).  To promote public safety, the Oregon State Board of Nursing runs all license applications, including renewal applications, through a CBC.  All ‘positive hits’ are sent to the Investigations department for further review.  A 'positive hit' means the background check indicates a person has been arrested or convicted of a crime.

All issues are handled on a case-by-case basis.  In addition to directing license applicants to thoroughly read all the mandatory disclosure questions and to answer them truthfully, there are a few things applicants should know that can help expedite the process.


  1. What arrests, convictions, or license discipline must be reported on the license application?
    All arrests and convictions (misdemeanors and felonies) must be reported, except for minor traffic violations.  "Driving Under the Influence" must be reported.  All prior or current disciplinary action against a healthcare-related license must be reported, whether it occurred in Oregon or in another state or territory.

  2. Can a person obtain a license or certificate if they have a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their record? 
    Each application is reviewed on an individual basis.  The OSBN reviews all prior arrests and convictions that may be related substantially to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a nurse or nursing assistant.  The OSBN considers the nature, severity, and timing of the offense(s), as well as rehabilitation and other factors.  The Board cannot make a determination for approval or denial of licensure without evaluating the entire application and supporting documentation.

  3. Do I have to report charges if I completed a court diversion program and charges were dismissed?
    Yes.  Offenses must be reported to the Board even if a court diversion program has been completed, and even if charges were dismissed. 

  4. What type of documentation do I need to submit in support of my application if I have a prior conviction or license discipline?
    In addition to the documents required for licensure, the OSBN will require:
    • Official court document(s) and arrest report(s) relative to your conviction(s), showing the date(s) and circumstance(s) surrounding your arrest /conviction(s), sections of the law violated, and disposition of the case.
    • Copies of documents relative to any disciplinary action taken against any license as an RN or any healthcare related license or certificate, if applicable.
    • A detailed description of the circumstances surrounding your conviction(s) or disciplinary action(s), and a thorough description of the rehabilitative changes in your lifestyle since the time of your conviction(s) or disciplinary action that would enable you to avoid future occurrences.  It would be helpful to include factors in your life which you feel may have contributed to your conviction(s) or disciplinary action, what you have learned about yourself since that time, and the changes you have made that support your rehabilitation.
    • The burden of proof lies with the applicant to demonstrate evidence of rehabilitation.  Examples of rehabilitation evidence include, but are not limited to:
      • If applicable to your conviction(s) or license discipline(s), documented evidence of professional treatment and counseling you may have completed.  Please provide discharge summary and most current chemical dependency and/or mental health evaluation, if available.
      • Letters of reference on official letterhead from employers, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals in positions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.
      • Proof of community service work, schooling, and/or self-improvement efforts.
      • Court-issued certificate of rehabilitation, dismissal or evidence of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole, and orders of the court.

  5. Can a person obtain a license or certificate if they have been previously accused of abuse or neglect?
    As stated previously, each application is reviewed on an individual basis.  If you have been investigated for either professional or personal allegations of abuse or neglect, a closure letter from the law enforcement or social service agency that conducted the investigation will expedite the review of your application. You should also submit a detailed letter explaining, by your own account, the circumstances surrounding the event(s).  

  6. How long will it take to review the information that I submit with my application?
    The normal processing time is unpredictable, since there are various factors that affect the time necessary to conduct an appropriate investigation.

  7. How can I help facilitate how quickly my prior conviction or license discipline is reviewed?
    The OSBN strongly encourages all individuals with an arrest, conviction, or discipline history to be fully prepared with information regarding their background prior to making application to the Board.  Otherwise, your request for a license will experience a delay. Enclosing all of your supporting documentation will also assist in expediting the process and review. 

  8. If my application is denied, can I appeal that decision?
    Yes.  You have the right to appeal the license denial and have an administrative hearing under the provisions of Oregon administrative laws.  You must submit the appeal in writing to the Board office within 60 days from the service of the notice of denial.  If you do not submit an appeal in writing to the Board, you will automatically waive your right to a hearing, and your application will be deemed denied.