Can a convicted person get a new lease in life by being of service to society by working in a hospital? Will a past criminal record prevent an affected felon from becoming a registered nurse? Is a health care license entirely out of the question?
As obvious as it may sound, the governing board has a duty to exclude people who pose a risk to society. Therefore, they have to deny applicants with felony crimes to their name. So, a convicted person should be prepared for some difficulties along the way.
This might make you think that there’s zero chance to be a nurse with a felony, right? After all, medical students are required to provide background information to participate in any medical care service. Also, hospital authorities require nurses to be moral and honest.
Naturally, felons are assumed to be dishonest. Otherwise, why would they be convicted? So, hospital authorities will have their share of doubts when providing a patient’s sensitive information to a convicted person. In short, a felony tag can haunt a person for a long time, even a lifetime.
Not to discount the fact that high credential hospitals require applicants to submit a lot of supporting documents at the time of job application. Basically, you will have to prove that you have a clear record to become a registered nurse in your state.
Nursing Background Check Discussed:
Usually, a nursing background check includes screening for sanctions and licensure. As expected, it also includes identifying nurses with a criminal history or a history of drug abuse. As such, the average background check lasts for anywhere between three days to one week. FBI checks last for around thirty days. That said, some instant background checks are also available these days.
Nurse Job with a Felony?
Of course, something like a speeding ticket won’t keep you unemployable. But then, a grave criminal offense can obstruct your path. Should you have a grave criminal offense under your name, the hospital would be concerned about you stealing drugs.
Not to discount the fact that hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities rely on nurses to take care of their patients. They don’t want somebody who handles others roughly or loses cool pretty easily.
Basically, a theft charge or similar offense won’t be tolerated when you are dealing with vulnerable people. Even if you don’t report your offense, they will find out anyway. Needless to say, they will run a background check.
In most states, certain cases like murder, kidnapping, endangering someone’s life can impact the decision of granting you a nursing license. After all, the magnitude of the crime determines a person’s behavior to a great extent.
Under certain circumstances, you can become a nurse. Yes, the law has provisions to help convicted individuals become a nurse. Of course, it depends on the type of offense too.
As such, laws allow convicted felons to become nurses in health care centers after a certain period of sentencing. One can also become a nurse if the sentence is erased.
Generally speaking, some measures are in place for convicted felons to become a nurse. Below criminal offenses can prevent you from obtaining a nursing license.
- -An offense pertaining to sexual harassment or assault
- -An offense that involves registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act
- -High-level theft or high degree of physical harm
- -Involuntary sexual conduct towards a minor
- -Criminal battery against a patient during the course of the treatment
In some states, convictions of this nature can automatically disqualify a person from getting a nursing license. That said, your case can be considered if you are below a certain age or have vastly served the community in some ways.
Some states can also grant a nursing license by taking into consideration the following things:
- -If you have honestly admitted guilty
- -If you have displayed good behavior at the time of your sentencing
- -If you are not a repeat offender
- -If you have done something for rehabilitation
So, there is hope even for grave offenders, provided they are able to meet all the criteria set by the law. Usually, violent offenders are allowed to reapply after a gap of five years from the day they completed their last sentence and parole (if parole is the part of the sentence).
Of course, five years of wait time may seem like a long time. However, it’s still worth the wait since it allows one to pursue his/her dream career. As you might know, nursing jobs carry a nice salary these days. There’s also this sense of gratification that you get from a job of this nature.
Not to discount the fact that you get to work with all kinds of people. From kids to senior citizens and everyone in between, you will be instrumental in helping a lot of people throughout your career. In fact, you will be viewed as a hero by many patients. In numerous ways, it’s a priceless job.
The State Matters!
Every state has its set of laws that governs the licensing process for nurses. Yes, the laws differ from one state to another. So, it depends not only on the severity of the crime but also on the state you reside. If a potential nursing student applies for a license, past offenses should be disclosed to the Board of Nursing Registration at the time of application.
If there’s a charge against you, it’s best to take all the documents regarding the charges, sentence time served, and other details with you on the visit to the Board of Nursing Registration office. You can also choose to mail them all the documents related to the crime. Furthermore, you can include a letter stating what went wrong and what you plan to do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
Your criminal background will definitely hurt. But then, you should do everything in your power to convince the Board that you are really keen on improving your life. Once you get a clearance in writing, you should consider putting your time in nursing school. Of course, there is no way to know in advance whether or not the board will decide things in your favor. As hinted earlier, a lot of factors are taken into consideration over here.
If a crime is committed while actively holding a license, the Board of Nursing Registration may take necessary action to punish the crime-committing nurse. As expected, the board may suspend or revoke the license immediately once the information about the wrongdoing is reported. Even if it’s a temporary suspension, the nurse will face difficulty finding an equivalent job.
What Should You do?
Apart from being honest during the application process, you should work on improving your lifestyle. In other words, you should prove that your past doesn’t define your future to improve your chances of serving as a nurse. You can show your changed behavior by volunteering in schools or churches. If possible, you should also get recommendation letters from prosecutors and law enforcement. This will probably increase your chances of getting a nursing job.
The committee will usually decide things in your favor if the rehabilitation reports are found satisfactory. Of course, the board should also feel that you pose a low risk to the public. Even for grave offenses, this would be your best bet to improve your chances of becoming a nurse, even with a felony. After all, getting arrested can significantly affect your chances of becoming a nurse.
What Convictions Won’t Impact Getting a Nursing License?
If your conviction is sealed, vacated, reversed, or expunged, it won’t have a major implication on your application for a nursing license. You must still provide a detailed explanation of your case during the time of application. Also, it’s important to know that all situations are different. Therefore, you should self-educate yourself on this matter.
To summarize things; there are provisions in place that can help you become a nurse even with a felony. However, the nature of the crime may sometimes limit your ability to be a registered nurse. If you are convicted of drug dealing, you may have a difficult time getting licensed. If the offense is related to reckless driving, it won’t be much of a problem.
That said, it’s better to check the law in the respective state since the laws tend to differ from one state to another. Generally speaking, the court of law evaluates each case very carefully before making a final decision. Your past will be analyzed thoroughly to determine whether or not you should be granted a license to become a nurse.
Simply put, some felons will be nurses. However, some may never get that chance, depending on the state they live in. As with any other case involving felons, it’s a complicated procedure. But then, you can apply and see whether your application is considered. After all, it’s worth realizing your ambitions no matter how difficult the road is.