The Scarlet Letter Nurse

  1. 2
    O.k., I've looked around the forums and I see nothing -not even a hint of a topic like the one I'm posting.

    I almost posted this in the forum under 'disabilities' but then I changed my mind and almost chose 'recovering'. In the end, it really didn't matter -what I'm about to post is a misfit no matter which forum I choose.

    Recently, after working part-time for a doctor (and friend of 8 years) I decided to go back to work full time in nursing.

    My doc could only offer the part-time I was already getting, so I launched a job hunt.

    Now, I'm nearly 54, still kicking and not quite over-the-hill and (this is crazy) but I genuinely love working! I, actually, look forward to it.

    I put in a months notice and, after updating my resume and a decent cover letter, I posted it online to several open nursing positions and waited.

    And waited. And waited.

    I was getting nothing but 'spammy' sales calls back. I checked the messages at home and on my cell.

    About two weeks into my job hunt I get one authentic return call back from a moderately-sized locally-owned physician's group practice.

    The human resources rep interviews me once for about 5 minutes by phone, then again a week later for another five minutes, promising that, whether I got the job or not she'd either call me or e-mail to let me know one way or the other.

    Two weeks later, as I served out my notice on my present job, I had still not heard from her -nor anyone else.

    Now, you -the reader- is wondering what (for heaven's sake) I did wrong!

    You're a bloodhound.

    Of course, I did something wrong.

    Here's my mistake: more than 25 years ago I broke the law and wound up with not one -but two- misdemeanors.

    Yep. Apparently, I will suffer for them the rest of my life.

    So, why didn't these misdemeanors ever hurt my ability to work before?

    Answer: because they happened during the prehistoric era before computers became involved with sensitive personal information at a g-zillion times the speed of light and before Human Resources personnel made hiring decisions based on how far they could go in digging up all the dusty skeletons and smelly garbage they could find from the farthest corners of your darkest closet.

    You see, hospitals, and home health agencies, and medical business entities of every type are increasing their standard reach of seven years into your background to as far as your record goes back.

    And they are -in their opinion- doing it for the safety of everyone (in the end, themselves).

    Meanwhile, people like me, who have something embarrassing in their background that they dealt with and put behind them so many years ago are seeing it dredged up again in these extensive background checks.

    For me, it's very alarming because I know, matter of factly, that our small town has never been able to keep anyone's secrets for long, despite HIPPA law.

    In the last 25 years I've married, raised a family I'm proud of and worked so hard at creating a decent and honorable life.

    Now, I can't get work, and my ancient mistakes are back again to haunt me and harm me.

    My life is falling apart because of this. I just wonder how many others are scarred by backgrounds that aren't perfect.
    BluTXRN and Joe V like this.
  2. 16 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    Speak to an attorney. We can not give legal advice per TOS, however, as just a personal thought process an attorney may be able to assist you with this.

    And apply in other towns close to yours, but not in your town.
  4. 1
    HIPAA only applies to protected medical/health information and only so far back. Criminal charges (felony or misdemeanor) are public record for infinity unless expunged or sealed.
    jalyc RN likes this.
  5. 3
    Look into getting your record expunged. Any rehabilitation efforts in addition to the time that has passed would help also. Usually the biggest hurdle is the state board seems like if they granted your license I don't know why an individual employer wouldn't look past your record, unless it's a state or federal job. They won't hire anyone with a record...period.
    Meriwhen, macfar28, and VivaLasViejas like this.
  6. 2
    As Beachy pointed out, HIPAA will do nothing for you here. HIPAA only deals with medical care, not criminal history.

    Unfortunately, there's no blanket law stating that employers can evaluate only the last 7 or so years of your life. There's state laws that may regulate how they can use your criminal record in the hiring process (State Laws on Use of Arrests and Convictions in Employment | Nolo.com) and provide some protection, but for the most part, employers can look back into your history as far as they like...and make judgements based on that.

    Fair? Not really. But it is what it is. And given the glut of nurses looking for work right now, employers can be exceptionally picky about who they want to hire. So many would rather go with the nurse with a clean record than for anyone with even the smallest blemish. Mind you, there's no guarantee that Clean Record Nurse is a saint who will be perfect and never given them one moment's grief...

    Anyhow.

    Talk to a lawyer to see what options may be available to you, such as expungement. This will at least let you answer "no" to most (but not all) questions regarding your criminal past.

    Also--and I ask only because it's not clear from your post--if you haven't addressed this with your BON already, definitely talk to a laywer before you bring it up with them. BONs do not look kindly upon those who fail to disclose their criminal history, especially when they find it out on their own.

    Best of luck.
    ArtzyFartzy and trixie333 like this.
  7. 14
    How do you know it is your criminal record preventing you from getting hired? Have employers actually told you that? Or are you just guessing that is the problem because you can't think of any other reason?

    Given that you have been out of the job market for 8 years, you might be missing some other reason why you are not getting hired. It is unlikely that those places that ever called you after you applied looked up your criminal history. Most employers don't check your history until after they have interviewed you and determined that you are a "finalist" for the position. So, your record is unlikely to be the cause of them not interviewing you.
    momof3orangepark, BluTXRN, GM2RN, and 11 others like this.
  8. 0
    This is devastating, yes, but I have seen ways around it. You have 2 misdemeanors and you are already a licensed nurse with experience. Have you tried looking for positions that in the application only ask if you were convicted of a felony? I am currently in FL and I would say that like 1/2 of the hospitals will not even ask if you have been convicted of misdemeanors. I too would depend of what you were convicted of. If it was any type of abuse or anything involving children that would pretty bad for you.
  9. 2
    In the area that I live there's criminal background checks on every job, even at a grocery store or the local dollar store. Those background checks show every charge and often if a misdemeanor shows up it's still enough to put a halt on the hiring process. My husband has looked now for years for a good job but charges from many years ago still haunt him. He is currently in school to become a drug and alcohol abuse counselor but, even when he gets out with good grades and an excellent school record, will he get a job or will this still haunt him? I'm hoping that his career choice makes a difference since it's related to his charges. He wants to help others who have been through what he has. I still worry that student loans will be due and no job to pay for them. I just hope his networking helps because it's not thus far. Thank God for farming work in our area and thank God he has experience in a trade of his own. With all of this said, nursing (or healthcare in general) is a far less forgiving profession. In a situation like yours OP then I guess seeking a lawyer to have these expunged, just as the others have said, is probably your best option. There's almost no such thing as a second chance in the world today with all if the computers that find almost everything. Pretty soon it will show up if you hit another kid in kindergarten and you will have to explain that at a job interview, if you even get the interview because of that. Lol! Nothing is hidden anymore. Everyone's skeletons are out of the closet now and no second chances for someone who done something silly when they were young. It's been taken to extremes because even the law looks at time. For example: the officers, lawyers, and judges no longer sees my husband as someone who breaks the law because it's been so many years since he has been into trouble and got those misdemeanors. These people talk with him at social functions and he is now respected as law abiding and as a friend to a lot of these people. Time should be a factor but unfortunately it's not. I'm sure there's many people in this very same position. 😞


    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses. Angi/LPN (🔜RN)
    ArtzyFartzy and trixie333 like this.
  10. 5
    Quote from llg
    How do you know it is your criminal record preventing you from getting hired? Have employers actually told you that? Or are you just guessing that is the problem because you can't think of any other reason?
    .
    That's what I was thinking too. Most applications only ask about felonies, not misdemeanors. Many people make mistakes in their younger years, or sometimes get caught up and charged for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. If I was hiring, I wouldn't even know you had been arrested in the past if there was no ding on your license.

    Its a competitive job market out there. Sometimes it takes a long time to find something, especially in a smaller market.

    I think the only mistake you made was quitting job A, before finding job B. Any chance you can go back to your old job for awhile? Temp staffing agency?

    P.S. As to the OP's HIPAA reference, I think she was just pointing that out as an example about how poorly secrets are kept, and how easily word gets around.
    morte, GM2RN, jalyc RN, and 2 others like this.
  11. 3
    I looked at your profile to determine where you might be. As stated by another poster some states have more employee protections than others.

    I know from my own experience that a misdemeanor conviction has not precluded employment, but it has possibly made it more difficult. There is no way to know for sure because I've never been explicity informed that it was an issue. Some applications ask about any conviction, some only ask for felonies. I have not even received calls back from the places that ask about all criminal history. I am happy to say I've been offered two jobs recently.

    I have a solid work history, have been continously employed since graduation, and have also continuously strived to improve my marketability by going to school and gaining critical care experience. I never leave one job before another is in the bag. I always trade up. I also apply for positions and interview regularly (even if I won't get the job).

    That is the only real advice I have. I am concerned that you may be facing age discrimination, or some other issue is hindering your prospects. My background check is clean (I always request the results) and my conviction was ten years ago.
    ArtzyFartzy, GM2RN, and jalyc RN like this.


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top