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For those who are worried about a criminal history

Four years ago I remember googling "Can I become a nurse with a criminal history?" and Allnurses popping up. I sat there for hours, crying my eyes out, reading endless posts about the horrors of how impossible it is to become a RN or get a job with a criminal history. I promised myself that if I ever became successful, I would write a positive post for those who were in my shoes and worried like I was four years ago.

Between the ages of 18-20 I received 3 different drinking tickets (simple misdemeanors, no DUIs. ) while I was at one of the top party schools in the nation - EXTREMELY stupid of me, I know. I don't know why it took me three incidents to learn my lesson, but after the third I knew that I needed to get my life together. I decided that it was time for me to stop messing around and decide what I was going to do with my life. I already knew that I was going to be a nurse, but it was time for me to start taking that dream seriously. I turned my grades around from a 2.5 to a 3.4 and applied for nursing school that next year. I was worried because I knew that schools did a background check and all I could imagine was how I looked like a huge alcoholic.

Well when I applied to nursing school, all that the application asked was if I had ever been convicted of a felony, so I was relieved when I was able to select no because it never asked about misdemeanors. I know that my school was well aware of my history since they did a background check, but I never had one issue getting into nursing school or at any point during the three years I attended school.

Well fast forward 3 years later to this Spring. I began applying for jobs in February and March and I was upfront on my applications about my 3 tickets and never lied once about it. I figured I was going to have such a hard time trying to find someone willing to hire me with my past, so I applied to over 100 jobs. (It also didn't help that I had yet to graduate nursing school or passed my NCLEX). Well, surprisingly, I was called back for 1 phone interview and 2 face-to-face interviews. In April, I was offered a job on a Medsurg floor in a huge hospital in the city and I gladly accepted.

At the end of my April, I realized it was time to face my biggest fear - applying to the board of nursing for my license. I was so terrified that I had put it off for months - most girls in my class had already applied in March and were just waiting on their transcripts to be sent. I had to round up all my paperwork from my tickets and had the enjoyment of reading the police reports from my tickets and reliving my stupidity. I also had to write a letter to the board of nursing explaining my life before, during, and after my incidents. I was completely honest in my letter and explained what happened when I got the tickets and how I have turned my life around since. Anyways, after getting together all the necessary court documents, getting fingerprinted, and paying all the necessary fees, I nervously sent off my application. In the beginning of May, I graduated with a 3.5 GPA and received my BSN.

At the end of May, I was in disbelief when my phone went off and I saw an email that I had received my approval to test. I scheduled the NCLEX for mid-June because of how booked up Pearson Vue was. I spent all my free time studying for the NCLEX. I ended up passing the NCLEX with 101 questions- huge relief!

After passing I was nervous that I'd receive a letter from the board of nursing saying I would have some type of restrictions on my license given my past, but 5 days later, I received my beautiful nursing license in the mail. After looking on my board of nursing's website, I saw that my license number was up and that I had no restrictions. I have never been so grateful and happy in my life.

After passing the NCLEX, I had to call the HR rep at the hospital where I accepted a job and inform her that I passed the NCLEX. She made an appointment for me to come in the following Monday to sign the pre-employment paperwork and take a drug and nicotine test. While I was there I had to sign an incredible amount of paperwork and then I had to go in and talk with her. She explained that they would obviously be doing a background check and said she saw that I had listed my tickets on my application. She explained that if anything comes back on a background check, they need to have the situation explained so just to save the time, she had me fill out the forms explaining my 3 incidents - which was similar to what I wrote for the board of nursing. All I could think was how bad I looked given my past, but she assured me that they were already aware of my tickets, but it's better if I explain them. So I took the next half hour filling out the who, what, when, where, and why of my tickets and what I've done since then. Well 1 week later, I received an email saying that I cleared HR and I am ready to start work next Monday!

I know that everyone's situation is different and some people won't be as lucky as I am, but I want people to know that it is possible to not only get into nursing school, but get a RN license and a great job. I just hope that no one foregoes their dream of nursing just because of mistakes you made in the past. It'll be nerve wracking and tough at times, but there is hope and you can do it! My main piece of advice is to just be honest about your past and don't try to lie or cover it up- that will only make things worse. Good luck to everyone who is in a situation like mine!


Specializes in Pediatric Neurology.

Thank you so much for posting this!

I recently got accepted into a fast track nursing program and they are doing a background check.

I've been panicking because when I was 17 I was an idiot and was pressured into stealing a bottle of liquor from a grocery store. Needless to say, it was the worst mistake of my life. I ended up pleading guilty to an MIP and a petty theft charge and I took two diversion classes.

I had recently lost my mother and was in a terrible state of mind, obviously all of that is in my past.

Hopefully I have the same luck as you!

I am going through a similar situation right now....THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What state are you in? How did you know to round up your papers to submit to the BON to get your ATT (did they specifically tell you to or did you do it on your own)?

Thank you for making this post. This has literally been me ALL morning. Crying my eyes out because I thought that it would be impossible to get my RN. I'm going to call the BON tomorrow. I got arrested for misdeameanor assault in 2009, it was just a stupid bar fight with a friend, and also have numerous traffic violations from several years ago so I've been extremely worried.

I also have been diagnosed with Bipolar and read that that could prevent me from becoming a nurse as well, but I think as long as I explain everything to them, and show them that I have been taking my medication, seeing doctors, and doing therapy that they will be more understanding.

I was such an idiot when I was younger, and I regret everything. I just hope that my past mistakes won't effect on the rest of my life.

Hi I'm a new nurse just got my lvn license and I really need a job I have stipulations for one year any suggestions

Hi brandy I read your post I'm a new nurse my self and I just want to wish you the best of luck you can do this


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