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Background Checks and Drug Testing

Students who apply to or request to be enrolled in some elective clinical sites may be required by the site to have a Criminal Background Check and/or a Drug Test done prior to being accepted or enrolled at the site. SUNY Downstate has an agreement with a company which can provide you with either a Criminal Background Check *OR* a Drug Test prior to going to a clinical site that requires one of these tests. These tests are conducted at your expense.

New Students in the Colleges of Health Related Professions, College of Nursing, School of Public Health or School of Graduate Studies who are completing a Criminal Background Check prior to enrollment at Downstate should see a special set of instructions here.

New students in the College of Medicine or the MD/MPH or MD/PhD programs should use the criminal background check service associated with your AMCAS application. For more information about this process, see the information on the College of Medicine's Admission web site here.

See the instructions on conducting the tests below.

How do I obtain my background check?

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is working with CastleBranch.com (formerly CertifiedBackground) to enable you to complete a Criminal Background Check for this purpose. New Students who are completing a Criminal Background Check prior to enrollment at Downstate should see a special set of instructions here. The cost of the background check is $115, which is payable by the student to the company directly. (Note: Students applying for an away elective in the College of Medicine should also see the instructions for how to obtain your results below.) Please note: Although usually institutions will only accept a background check done within the past year, you should first check with your away site rotation if they will accept the background check that was performed upon matriculation/admission *BEFORE* you pay for this background check. Rules on what type of background checks are accepted vary greatly by institution and are not under our control.

To obtain your background check:

  1. Go to CastleBranch.com and click on "Place Order."
  2. Using the drop-down menu, select the appropriate Package Code box: SX30bg
  3. Enter your payment information – Visa, Mastercard, or Money Order.
  4. Follow the online instructions, enter all of the requested information, and complete your order.

The results of the Criminal Background Check will be delivered both to you and the Office of Student Affairs, who can certify your results in approximately 3-5 business days. Please note that you should check with the clinical site to find out if they need to receive a copy of the results of your background check.

** Note: The cost of the background check has been increased to $115 because the State of New York does not permit access to a county search of records from the five boroughs of New York City and the Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, thus requiring you to obtain a NYS Statewide Search for these records. The cost of this additional search is $65, charged by the State of New York, and is in addition to the remainder of your background check.

** Please note: If you are conducting both a Criminal Background Check and a Drug Test, you must order each item separately.

How do I obtain my drug test?

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is working with CastleBranch.com (formerly CertifiedBackground) to enable you to complete a drug test for this purpose. The cost of the drug test is $40, which is payable by the student to the company directly. (Note: Students applying for an away elective in the College of Medicine should also see the instructions for how to obtain your results below.)

To obtain your background check:

  1. Go to CastleBranch.com and click on "Place Order."
  2. Using the drop-down menu, select the appropriate Package Code box: SX30dt
  3. Enter your payment information – Visa, Mastercard, or Money Order.
  4. Follow the online instructions, enter all of the requested information, and complete your order.
  5. You will receive two e-mails from the web site. One will be a receipt with your code to obtain your results and the second (which you may receive an hour or so later) will be a copy of the "Custody and Control Form" which you must print out and bring to the lab you selected to obtain the test.

The results of the Drug Test will be delivered both to you and the Office of Student Affairs, who can certify your results approximately 72 hours after you visit the lab. Please note that you should check with the clinical site to find out how they wish to be informed of the result of your Drug Test.

** Please note: If you are conducting both a Criminal Background Check and a Drug Test, you must order each item separately.

What type of information is searched by CastleBranch.com in their criminal background check?

Our CastleBranch.com package includes the following:

  • County Criminal Records Search (for ever county you have lived in, except as indicated below under New York State)
  • National Criminal Records Search
  • Nationwide Sexual Offender Index
  • Social Security Alert
  • Residency History
  • New York State-wide Criminal Records Search (note: Because New York State does not permit a county records search in the five boroughs of New York City or the counties of Nassau and Suffolk, this additional search has been added. New York State charges an additional $65 for this search and it is in addition to the remainder of the search being performed above by CertifiedBackground. All counties in the State of New York are included in this search.)

What type of drug test is conducted by CastleBranch.com?

The CastleBranch.com drug test is a 10-panel drug screen. A 10-panel drug screen is a test that measures the presence, if any, of an illicit substance in the body through urine testing.

What if I have a problem with the CastleBranch.com web site?

If you have any difficulty with your Criminal Background Check or the Drug Screen, please contact CastleBranch.com Customer Service at 888-666-7788. We cannot assist you with the CastleBranch.com web site.

What is CastleBranch.com?

CastleBranch.com is a service that allows students to order their own Background Check online. Information collected through CastleBranch.com is secure, tamper-proof, and kept confidential. The results are posted on the CastleBranch.com website where the student (you), as well as the school, can view them.

Am I required to get my background check through CastleBranch.com?

SUNY Downstate Medical Center has worked with CastleBranch.com (formerly CertifiedBackground) to enable you to complete a Criminal Background Check and/or Drug Test. You are not required to use CastleBranch.com. If you wish to obtain your background check or drug test through another source, it must include all of the information listed above under Background Check or Drug Test. We encourage you to e-mail us at studentaffairs@downstate.edu to check if another company will be accepted before spending money on an alternative check.

Applying for an Away Elective Through VSAS or Other Source?

SUNY Downstate students applying for away electives through VSAS or other means must apply for the elective first before requesting that the results of the background check or drug test are certified. Once you have completed the application process, email Student Affairs at studentaffairs@downstate.edu to request that your results be certified in VSAS.

If the away elective does not use VSAS and requires a specific form be filled out, that form can be e-mailed to us or brought to the Student Affairs Office to be filled out.

Please note: Although usually institutions will only accept a background check done within the past year, you should first check with your away site rotation if they will accept the background check that was performed upon matriculation/admission *BEFORE* you pay for this background check. Rules on what type of background checks are accepted vary greatly by institution and are not under our control.

Please note that we cannot always answer questions about the requirements imposed by away elective sites in their applications. You should contact the site to inquire about their specific requirements.