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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    1

    Default Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Pennsylvania

    I have a felony and 3 misdemeanors for drug charges. On the application to get a nursing license, they ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime and if so to fully explain it on a seperate sheet of paper.
    That would make me believe that it is possible, although probably difficult.

    Does anyone know anyone who has been convicted of crimes and became a nurse or doctor?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Il.(near StL,Mo.)
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    5,252

    Default Re: Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony?

    Generally, if someone has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor they may not be allowed to take the RN licensing exam. The question of eligibility to take the RN licensing exam will be determined when the application for license is received by the State Board of Nursing. A background check will be done & if any criminal hx developed, it will normally exclude you from most jobs in the medical field.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2007
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    Il.(near StL,Mo.)
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    5,252

    Default Re: Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony?

    I don't know when your drug charges were but since a nurse would work around drugs, that may certainly work against you in getting a nursing license.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    9,085

    Default Re: Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony

    I hate to say it... but even if you could talk your way into the exam (for which I give you a 1 in 10 chance at best) no one is going to hire a convicted drug related felon around their patients.

    Not going to happen.

    You will have to pick another line of work.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    811

    Default Re: Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony

    In some of my previous posts I have noted that in some medical related schools (nursing, NP/PA programs, and med schools) they will tell you on the first day of class:
    If you have a Felony then you should withdrawl from class. They are 100% serious about this and many colleges now require a criminal background check (Felony, Misdemeanor, and DHHS (child abuse, domestic violence, etc) even before you start your first class.

    Having said that...the answer to your question is Possibly (5% chance, not even 1 in 10).
    Soo...
    Possibly...
    It is VERY RARE when a nursing board will grant a license to a Felon, but it does happen. Generally you have to have completed everything required by the courts, have a clean record for the past 5-10 years or be post-conviction for 5-10 years dependent upon state (PA does not have a specific limit if I recall correctly), have all kinds of letters supporting your rehabilitation and it would not hurt to have a decent attorney (expensive) practicing in medical malpractice defense and licensing appeals put your packet together. $40+/- an hour as an RN beats $8.50 an hour at the local big box retailer so the few thousand dollars now would be a good investment that would pay off once you start working.

    If the Felony and misdemeanor charges are expunged then it makes it a bit easier as they won't show up on some background checks, but still must be disclosed, particularly for government hospitals and the State Board.

    If your Felony and misdemeanors show a pattern over months or years then you might just have to forget the field.

    Some doctors will hire persons with questionable pasts if they are licensed and rehabilitated. The salaries are much lower until that person proves themselves and then the salaries are still pretty low.

    Many states, within the past 10 years, have passed more stringent licensing requirements because of the influx of people desiring a good paying job in the nursing field and an increase of people with questionable pasts. When a field lacks quality people we initially see salaries go up and quality of applicants go down (construction, vehicle maintenance, computer programming (offshore), nursing, etc). The way to answer that call in the case of nursing is to legislate it.

    ...and then there is the liability for the doctors and hospitals; medical malpractice is high enough but tie that to the need to insure a felon, most doctors and hospitals will not pay for it.

    My suggestion would be to check with the State Board of Nursing for PA to see what they would require in your specific case.
    If you cross the border into Ohio you may not even be able to sit for the exam with a Felony (as noted by Betty and Jeff).

    "They" will watch over you and may have very strict rules over your employment if you are given a chance. Expect this and perform to 100% of your abilities.

    Nurses are just about the most gossipy creatures, next to the church ladies. Expect that everyone will learn about your issue and they will talk about it. If you can turn this into a positive thing (you did your crime, rehabilitated yourself, and made something of yourself) then most nurses will recognize this. It will still be hard.


    If you have cleaned up your life, that is an amazing step. It's great that you are working to better your life! Best wishes in your pursuits and let us know how it goes. It will be a hard road ahead.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    811

    Default Re: Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony

    To answer your other question:
    Doctor - No, never. I would opine that competition for med school and residency programs in the States are way too stiff. I have known 2 that were suspended for drug use (not sure if they were charged by the police), one a friend of the family. They were both self-reported, went through rehab, and completed their suspension. Both eventually had their medical license returned and had their DEA license granted upon reapplication.

    Nurse - Yes, sort of. We all have heard of the success stories, but they are pretty rare and I have never personally met a nurse that had been convicted of a Felony and still made it. Friends friends in the medical profession occasionally talk about it (ergo nurses being gossipy).

    I knew of a few that have been suspended for misdemeanor drug use and later got their licenses back after a few years when the case was resolved and probation had been completed.

    I knew a valedictorian of a nursing program that always smoked up but never had a charge. She quit before starting work because of the mandatory and random urinalysis.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Can I Get a Registered Nursing License with a Felony

    By all means go for it. I know many lpns and rn who have servrd time for felonies/misdemeanors who have rehabed and been on the straight and narrow. Call the public health board and explain your wishes. The only thing is if ya have any violent crimes then im 95% sure you wont get any work since you poss. be dealing with sick,young, or old people who cant defend themselves. Like i said go for it, when ya get it dont mess up cuz the employer will toss you like a piece of trash, and get your referances in order. GL

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