As a general rule, background checks are required for ALL healthcare professions. Background checks are designed to ensure that healthcare professionals, at all levels, do not present a risk to the patient population. The extent and scope of background checks varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. (A jurisdiction is the governmental agency that has the authority to determine law such as federal, state, county, city etc)
The following outline applies to the requirements for Washington State. Other jurisdictions may have more or less particular requirements. If you are seeking certification or employment in other jurisdictions (outside of Washington State), you are responsible to meet their requirements.
Background checks are required for Bellevue College students pursuing educational programs in healthcare. The college does not conduct or require background checks for the courses themselves, however, in order to complete the practicum (externship) portion of the program, at a healthcare facility, students are required to complete and submit a background check. This requirement is based on the healthcare facilities obligation to comply with state law and the colleges contract with those facilities.
- Students in healthcare programs are required to complete and submit a background check prior to entering a practicum (externship) at a healthcare facility in order to meet the contractual requirements for externships at those healthcare facilities, as well as, to ensure future certification eligibility.
- The State of Washington, Department of Health has the authority to conduct background checks for healthcare professions to determine whether to issue certification or licensure in Washington State.
- Healthcare facilities have the authority to conduct background checks to determine whether to employ an individual or allow an individual to volunteer (externship) at their facility.
- As a general rule, all of the following categories are considered exclusionary (they will prevent you from certification or employment). The entire list is detailed in the sections further below:
- A gross misdemeanor, or felony involving “crimes against persons” (murder, assault, rape, abuse, robbery etc.).
- A gross misdemeanor, or felony involving “crimes relating to drugs” (manufacture, delivery, or possession of a controlled substance.)
- A gross misdemeanor, or felony involving “crimes relating to financial exploitation“. (extortion, theft, robbery etc)
- If you are not confident about your background check, you are encouraged to request a background check early on in your program of study. (You must use the contacted agency listed below for the background check to apply to Bellevue College programs.)
- Background checks can take from 2-8 weeks, plan accordingly.
- Background checks related to Bellevue College programs are valid for one (1) year. If you request a background early in your program, and proceed through your program on schedule, entering your externship within that year, you should only need to do this once.
- Bellevue College DOES NOT provide determinations regarding your background check.
- Items that may or may not disqualify you are based on determinations by the Washington State Department of Health (for Washington) and our contractual agreements with healthcare facilities.
- Healthcare facilities MAY REQUIRE ADDITIONAL or MORE STRINGENT REQUIREMENTS than the minimum requirements for the state.
The background and disciplinary requirements for healthcare professions are broadly defined in RCW 18.130 ”Regulation of Health Professions – Uniform Disciplinary Act”
Authority to conduct background checks is provided under RCW 18.130.064.
“(1)(a) The secretary is authorized to receive criminal history record information that includes nonconviction data for any purpose associated with investigation or licensing and investigate the complete criminal history and pending charges of all applicants and license holders.”
Authority to grant or deny licenses / certification is provided under RCW 18.130.040.
“(3) In addition to the authority to discipline license holders, the disciplining authority has the authority to grant or deny licenses. The disciplining authority may also grant a license subject to conditions.”
The definition of “unprofessional conduct” is outlined in RCW 18.130.180 and broadly defined as:
“(1) The commission of any act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption relating to the practice of the person’s profession, whether the act constitutes a crime or not. If the act constitutes a crime, conviction in a criminal proceeding is not a condition precedent to disciplinary action. Upon such a conviction, however, the judgment and sentence is conclusive evidence at the ensuing disciplinary hearing of the guilt of the license holder of the crime described in the indictment or information, and of the person’s violation of the statute on which it is based. For the purposes of this section, conviction includes all instances in which a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is the basis for the conviction and all proceedings in which the sentence has been deferred or suspended.”
The law does define that an individual maintains their rights under RCW 9.96A:
“Nothing in this section abrogates rights guaranteed under chapter 9.96A RCW.” RCW 18.130.180
RCW 9.96A.010 does allow for employment consideration for prior felonies;
“The legislature declares that it is the policy of the state of Washington to encourage and contribute to the rehabilitation of felons and to assist them in the assumption of the responsibilities of citizenship, and the opportunity to secure employment or to pursue, practice or engage in a meaningful and profitable trade, occupation, vocation, profession or business is an essential ingredient to rehabilitation and the assumption of the responsibilities of citizenship.”
However, the law excludes the provisions in 9.96A.010, for professions that “deal with children or vulnerable persons”. This is outlined in RCW 9.96A.060:
“This chapter is not applicable to the department of social and health services when employing a person, who in the course of his or her employment, has or may have unsupervised access to any person who is under the age of eighteen, who is under the age of twenty-one and has been sentenced to a term of confinement under the supervision of the department of social and health services under chapter 13.40 RCW, who is a vulnerable adult under chapter 74.34 RCW, or who is a vulnerable person. For purposes of this section “vulnerable person” means an adult of any age who lacks the functional, mental, or physical ability to care for himself or herself.”
Further more, the healthcare facilities that we contract with are required to conduct background checks for both employees and volunteers (externships are considered volunteer positions) pursuant to RCW 43.43.832 ”Additional licensing requirements for agencies, facilities, and individuals providing services.” Which requires:
“(1)(a) The secretary of social and health services and the secretary of health shall adopt additional requirements for the licensure or relicensure of agencies, facilities, and licensed individuals who provide care and treatment to vulnerable adults, including nursing pools registered under chapter 18.52C RCW. These additional requirements shall ensure that any person associated with a licensed agency or facility having unsupervised access with a vulnerable adult shall not be the respondent in an active protective order under RCW 74.34.130, nor have been: (i) Convicted of a crime against persons as defined in RCW 43.43.830, except as provided in this section; (ii) convicted of crimes relating to financial exploitation as defined in RCW 43.43.830, except as provided in this section; or (iii) found in any disciplinary board final decision to have abused a vulnerable adult under RCW 43.43.830.”
What will prevent me from certification / licensure / employment in Washington State?
The Department of Health has the authority to conduct background investigations for healthcare professions in order to determine whether license or certification will be granted. The criteria is broadly defined under the Uniform Disciplinary Act. However, as ALL healthcare careers directly involve, or have the potential to involve children or vulnerable persons, the Department of Health uses the guidelines provided for working with these populations.
As such, the specific exclusionary items are outlined in RCW 43.43.830 ”Background checks — Access to children or vulnerable persons” as follows:
(6) “Conviction record” means “conviction record” information as defined in RCW 10.97.030 and *10.97.050 relating to a crime committed by either an adult or a juvenile. It does not include a conviction for an offense that has been the subject of an expungement, pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of the rehabilitation of the person convicted, or a conviction that has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of innocence. It does include convictions for offenses for which the defendant received a deferred or suspended sentence, unless the record has been expunged according to law.
(7) “Crime against children or other persons” means a conviction of any of the following offenses: Aggravated murder; first or second degree murder; first or second degree kidnapping; first, second, or third degree assault; first, second, or third degree assault of a child; first, second, or third degree rape; first, second, or third degree rape of a child; first or second degree robbery; first degree arson; first degree burglary; first or second degree manslaughter; first or second degree extortion; indecent liberties; incest; vehicular homicide; first degree promoting prostitution; communication with a minor; unlawful imprisonment; simple assault; sexual exploitation of minors; first or second degree criminal mistreatment; endangerment with a controlled substance; child abuse or neglect as defined in RCW 26.44.020; first or second degree custodial interference; first or second degree custodial sexual misconduct; malicious harassment; first, second, or third degree child molestation; first or second degree sexual misconduct with a minor; commercial sexual abuse of a minor; child abandonment; promoting pornography; selling or distributing erotic material to a minor; custodial assault; violation of child abuse restraining order; child buying or selling; prostitution; felony indecent exposure; criminal abandonment; or any of these crimes as they may be renamed in the future.
(8) “Crimes relating to drugs” means a conviction of a crime for manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.
(9) “Crimes relating to financial exploitation” means a conviction for first, second, or third degree extortion; first, second, or third degree theft; first or second degree robbery; forgery; or any of these crimes as they may be renamed in the future.
Additional criteria may be found in RCW 43.43.842 which does provide for some exceptions;
“(2) The rules adopted under this section shall permit the licensee to consider the criminal history of an applicant for employment in a licensed facility when the applicant has one or more convictions for a past offense and:”
(a) The offense was simple assault, assault in the fourth degree, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and three or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment;
(b) The offense was prostitution, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and three or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment;
(c) The offense was theft in the third degree, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and three or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment;
(d) The offense was theft in the second degree, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and five or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment;
(e) The offense was forgery, or the same offense as it may be renamed, and five or more years have passed between the most recent conviction and the date of application for employment.
However, there is no requirement to either license / certify or employ someone based on an exception, as described with,
“The offenses set forth in (a) through (e) of this subsection do not automatically disqualify an applicant from employment by a licensee. Nothing in this section may be construed to require the employment of any person against a licensee’s judgment.”
Appropriate agencies to request background checks.
The college has contracted with Certified Background to provide background checks for our healthcare programs. This is a private agency that has agreed to a reduced rate to conduct the required background checks for our programs as a “package”.
- Students are required to contact this agency to request a background check prior to beginning their externships.
- The background check conducted by this agency are accepted by all of our contracted facilities.
- Background checks can take from 2-8 weeks, plan accordingly.
- When using this agency, students should identify themselves as Bellevue College students (package code: BB85) to ensure they are receiving the appropriate background check and discounted rate.
- Students must agree to the release of their background check in order to have their externship processed.