I am having more in-person, telephone, and email consultations with individuals considering nursing school and who have a felony conviction(s) or misdemeanor convictions. I am also having more consults with nursing students about criminal convictions, licensure, and employment.
I applaud those who are asking the tough questions upfront instead of forging ahead "willy nilly" and then finding out that there are issues with licensure and employability. In some states, there may be issues with clinical sites depending on the conviction(s).
Okay, so here is the skinny:
1. If you have a felony conviction even if its not an automatic bar for licensure with a State Nursing Board, talk to a nurse license defense attorney. I am seeing nurses with so many restrictions on a license because of a felony convictions that finding employment, which is already limited because of the conviction, is like Mission Impossible.
2. Even if you are granted a nursing license, ask yourself what are your employment options.
Nursing is not for everyone and sometimes just sometimes you may need an objective and neutral person to tell you this. I am seeing folks who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on a nursing degree but then hit a wall with licensure and employment. The nursing degree is worth less than a bubble gum wrapper.
If you decide you really want to be a nurse in spite of and despite all obstacles related to felony and/or misdemeanor convictions, then do your thing but at least make sure you are making an informed decision.
3. There are other opportunities in healthcare where you can work and provide hands on care and it doesn't have to be nursing. There are lots of other licensed healthcare professionals and unlicensed healthcare professionals. Do your research before you commit to nursing in spite of and despite all the obstacles you face.
There are more and more proprietary and for-profit nursing schools appearing across the country to ease the "nursing shortage." I have heard (from nurses who teach in these programs) that some of these proprietary schools take any student as long as you can pay the tuition and fees which are of course expensive.
Actually I guess I should thank some of the schools because I am receiving more calls from new graduates and nurses with 0-2 years experience who are being reported to the State Nursing Board for a variety of complaints and alot of these are graduates of the proprietary programs.
Thank you proprietary nursing schools for the business! You are the best!
Okay again what is the skinny? If you want to be a nurse bad enough you can find a nursing school to accept you somewhere. But again think about clinicals, licensure, and employment post graduation if you have a felony and/or misdemeanor convictions. If you are willing to take your chances then dive in just please please please check and make sure there is a little water in pool and don't take this type of leap on faith, hope, or empty promises.