What is the Board of Registered Nursing?

The Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) is a state governmental agency established by law to protect the public by regulating the practice of registered nurses. The BRN is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the Nursing Practice Act: the laws related to nursing education, licensure, practice, and discipline. The Nursing Practice Act created a nine-member Board which serves as the BRN decision-making body.

Who Serves on the Board?

The nine-member Board is composed of four members of the public and five registered nurses. The five registered nurses include two direct-patient care nurses, an advanced practice nurse, a nurse administrator, and a nurse educator. Seven of the members are appointed by the Governor and two of the public members are appointed by the Legislature. Each member serves a four-year term and can be re-appointed, although the member cannot serve more than two consecutive terms.

How Does the Board Protect Consumers?

The BRN regulates California registered nurses. There are over 430,000 registered nurses in California providing health care services in a variety of settings.

The BRN performs a variety of activities in its mission to protect consumers, including:

Setting RN Educational Standards
The BRN sets educational standards for nursing programs which prepare individuals to become licensed as registered nurses.

Approving California Nursing Programs
There are over 140 prelicensure nursing programs and over 50 advanced practice programs which have been approved because they meet BRN educational standards.

Evaluating Licensure Applications
Applications are evaluated to determine whether the applicant meets all licensure requirements. To be licensed the applicant must:

  • complete the educational requirements
  • pass a national licensing examination
  • be cleared through a background check for conviction of any crime which might make the applicant ineligible for licensure

Issuing and Renewing Licenses
Registered Nursing licenses are issued to applicants who meet the licensing requirements. The license must be renewed every two years.

Issuing Certificates
The BRN issues certificates to eligible public health nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists. The BRN also maintains a list of eligible psychiatric/mental health nurse specialists.

Taking Disciplinary Action
If a nurse violates the Nursing Practice Act, the BRN may take disciplinary action against the nurse's license. Grounds for discipline focus on behaviors that place patients at risk of harm. The disciplinary action is dependent on the nature and severity of the violation and what is necessary to protect the public. The disciplinary action becomes a part of the RN's file and is accessible to the public.

Managing an Intervention Program
The BRN's Intervention Program is an alternative to the discipline process for nurses whose practice may be impaired due to chemical dependency or mental illness. This confidential Program protects the public while enabling the nurse to be rehabilitated.

Operating an Online License Verification System
The BRN's online license verification system allows the consumer to validate the status of a nurse's license. Access the license verification system to learn if:

  • the person is licensed as an RN
  • the license is active, inactive, or lapsed
  • the nurse has any BRN certificates
  • there is any disciplinary action against the license

Online services are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Registered Nurses (RN) Use a Variety of Titles in Their Practice Including:

  • Staff or Charge Nurse
  • Nurse Manager
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
  • Critical Care Nurse (CCRN)
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Patient Care Coordinator

Settings Where Registered Nurses Practice Include:

  • health departments
  • health maintenance organizations
  • home health agencies
  • hospitals
  • private practice
  • schools
  • skilled nursing facilities

Regardless of the title or setting, the registered nurse's practice is governed by the Board of Registered Nursing.

How Can You Help?

The BRN is committed to successfully achieving its mission to protect California's health care consumers and promote quality nursing care. You can assist by:

  • Reporting to the BRN suspected violations of the Nursing Practice Act, such as registered nurses practicing in an unsafe or unprofessional manner, or unlicensed persons illegally providing nursing care
  • Informing the BRN of issues that affect the education and practice of California RN

What Other Resources are Available for Health Care Consumers?
Many individuals and agencies contribute to the status and quality of health care in California. Please refer to Related Links for a partial list of other regulatory agencies involved in the health care field.