American institutions are increasingly focused on public safety and protection. In healthcare, the intense value placed on safety is manifest in recent literature published by the Institute of Medicine and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) (1,2). To protect the public, many state boards of nursing (SBON) now require criminal background checks before granting a nursing license, and those that do not require a full background check do require selfdisclosure of any criminal background (3). In addition, regulatory and accrediting agencies have begun to request background checks for people who deliver care to clients (4).
Background Checks for Nursing Students:
What Are Schools Doing?
Background checks of criminal history are designed to protect the public from individuals who may have a criminal history and may be apt to repeat a crime. There are various types including city, county, state, and federal background checks. Some are obtained from the police or sheriff; some through a federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and some through companies specializing in background checks. In addition, institutions and individuals may obtain authority to perform background checks independently online.
A criminal self-disclosure may be required instead of or in addition to a background check. A disclosure is a signed statement by an individual indicating if she or he has ever been arrested and/or convicted of a crime. If an individual has a criminal history, more details regarding the arrest or conviction can be obtained or a background check may be required. Some institutions require disclosures as part of the background check process and look for congruency between self-disclosure and the resultsof the background check.
Nursing programs are affected by the call for more background checks. Students may need to get background checks because facilities require them, in preparation for licensure, or because the school believes it is in the best interest of the public to have the backgrounds of their students investigated.
Not all schools of nursing require background checks, however. Some would argue that, in the absence of state law, there is little to guide a nursing program in using the results of a background check. In addition, many schools are not able to deny admission to an academically qualiﬁed student, even if the student has a criminal history discovered on a background check. -buy thesis-
A review of the literature was conducted inpreparation for the research study. A search of a variety of databases, including CINAHL, Ovid, Health Business FullTEXT Elite, FindLaw, and ERIC, using the key words background check, criminal history, and public protection literature, revealed little information about background checks in relation to schools of nursing. Several opinion articles were found that related to background checks for employers in general (4-10); these focused on the pros and cons of obtaining background checks before making offers of employment. Only one research study was located. It, too, was related to employers and background checks (11).
The literature on background checks and health care institutions focused on state laws and/or regulatory or accrediting bodies such as the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (12) and JCAHO
(2). Several authors discussed the effectiveness of background checks in protecting the public (13-16). Finally, a few articles and websites were located on practitioner databanks to track criminal and licensure issues and/or the need to protect the public as part of licensure (3,17,18).
Articles related to the use of background checks in higher education were focused on the need to protect the public and the legality of denying admissions (19-23). Very little information relating to background checks and schools of nursing was located. One recent article provides a review of the complex issues facing nursing schools as they contemplate requiring background checks. This article also provides information on state boards of nursing that require background checks or disclosure prior to licensure.
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