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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse Verified

Child Abuse Charges- Can I Be an RN?

Nurse Beth   (1,795 Views 1 Comments)
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Dear Nurse Beth,

I have a child abuse charge, that was dropped by the State of Missouri as there was not proof of abuse. My local police dept filed charges anyway. I was not arrested (got a bondsman) and hired an attorney. He stated it wasn't worth going to trial and to do a diversion program. This program has now been completed. I was never convicted. Will I have problems getting into nursing school in Florida?

Dear Charged,

You have charges that will show up on a background check either by the school or the BON.

Know that background checks conducted by the BON are FBI-level searches which reveal every documented encounter with the law- dropped charges, expunged records- everything.

At the same time, every state is different and has different reporting requirements- you must answer applications honestly. Some will ask if you've been arrested or convicted, some will ask if you've ever been charged, some ask you to report charges that have been dropped.

You were not convicted, but you attended a diversion program in lieu of a trial. That could be seen as admitting guilt.

There are few absolute disqualifiers, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. I'm sorry that you cannot always know upfront whether you will be allowed to sit for the NCLEX . There are so many factors that are taken into consideration- the details of the charge, how long ago it happened, any priors, proof of rehabilitation, and so on.

Child abuse charges will be taken seriously as a matter of public protection. Florida Statute section 464.018 lists child abuse conviction or entering a nolo contendere plea as grounds for refusing a license. That doesn't necessarily mean they will refuse- but they could.

If you feel that an objective person looking at your case would decide that you are completely safe to work with children, then you might decide to apply. Even then you will face some barriers, but you have a chance.

No one can tell you with certainty except the BON. There is no way to really know until you apply. Be prepared to change your plans if needed.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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