can I be a nurse with a criminal record?

Nurses Career Support


I have been in health care for several years and I am considering going into nursing.

Recently, I have been working as a CNA and I actually moved out of state to be close to a nursing program that I am interested in.

In transfering my certification I have run into a few problems because of a five year old marijuana conviction. The state I moved to has requested my fingerprints, slowed my certification transfer, and basically made me feel like I am not wanted.

Does anyone know if this conviction is going to plague me forever, and if its worth the trouble to go to school if I can't get registered, employed, etc?

I would love to become a nurse, but I am beginning to get a little discouraged.

Any comments, insights, suggestions?


177 Posts

If it was a felony, most states won't allow you to be licensed. You can appeal this if the state allows it. Check the state you live in. It is posiible......don't give up on your dream!!!!!!

Specializes in Oncology/Haemetology/HIV.

It really depends on the state. Some states require fingerprints for any license - Florida requires so much documentation and delays everything - it is unreal. Others may be more relaxed. It would also help if more time had lapsed (such as 10 years). Just see how it goes.


111 Posts

My suggestion is a good one (I work in the law profession): Consult a criminal lawyer. If it was a felony (and it was not committed in Texas or OK -- both states are terribly strict), you have a good chance of either having it reduced to a misdemeanor OR sealed, especially if you were a juvenile when you committed the offense and especially if it was not for 'drugs for sale'. Good luck. All is NOT lost, not by a long shot. Not even if you went to prison.


263 Posts

Also contact the nursing board in your state, however, they will probably tell you that they can not offical review your case until you have been accepted into a nursing school. Therefore, be honest with the school that you want to apply to and do what is in front of you.


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

I remember 20 years ago some of my fellow students got waviers for same problem. This is in Pa and I don't know how they do it know.


1 Post

First and formost... YES, this is going to "plague" you forever! Unfortunately the system designed to "help" us, is also designed to debilitate us. Luckily, the sytem has holes called loops!

Its not the issue of licensure, depending on your state and the loops they make you jump through, you'll more than likely be able to obtain a degree, or certification. However! No one tells us that its up to the corporation that your applying to weither or not you will get a job!!! Its a horrible descrimination, I think, because Im going through it now. I have a felony conviction for a DUI when I was 20 and some drug charged that were dropped when I was 18. I am 26 now and I got my CNA license last year. But everytime I go to a job interveiw or even an orientation, I get pulled into the office of admissions who tells me the same line ( I swear they have a little handbook with lines) anyway they hit me with the ol' "your background check came back and we need to discuss this with corporate before we can allow you into our facility"

So its not them, its the big bad corporate office who says, NO! Even though you have'nt been in any trouble for over 5,6, or 7 years NO. Even thought you took this course or have this degree and passed with honors, NO. Even though our company claims that it does not descriminate and none of your convictions fall under immediate dismissal, NO... NO NO NO!!!!!

Im not trying to discourage you, but you need to realisticly evaluate your record, truely want this and be willing to work twice as hard for it. Im not giving up either. I am going to school for my bachelors in science for nursing and hopefully by the time I grasduate enough time will have lapsed between my last bout with the law and my future goals.

I dont understand why the system is set up the way it is, but our records will follow us around forever and the only thing that will heal it slightly is time. But your education is an investment and with a record you'll more than likely still be able to obtain it.

Editorial Team / Admin

Silverdragon102, BSN

1 Article; 39,477 Posts

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC.

This thread is from 2002 and I am sure things have changed since this was posted.

Moved to nursing with criminal history forum and closed

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