You did not ruin your future, and it is highly unlikely you ruined your chances of being a nurse. You were thirteen. You are by no means alone in having an infraction in your past. Someday when you get accepted into nursing school, you’ll find classmates with far more recent and serious convictions.
Here’s what you need to know:
In most states, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) or the state Board of Registered Nursing (BON) regulates the certification and registration of nursing assistants.
You have two applications:
- One to CNA school for admission to a training program (school performs a background check)
- One to state/BON for your CNA certification (state performs a deeper background check)
Both the school and the state/BON conduct background searches. The state/BON search uses the Department of Justice and FBI databases. It goes far deeper than the school search and reveals all court records, expunged, sealed, adjudicated, or dismissed cases.
Everything is discoverable
You MUST follow the application instructions and report everything they tell you to report, whether you believe the information is “hidden” or not.
There are exceptions to reporting, but they will be clearly listed on the application. For example, in California you do not have to report marijuana-related offenses or minor traffic violations.
Case by Case
Most states/BONs handle each case individually.
The state/BON looks for remorse and insight on your part. Did you comply with your community service and everything the court ordered? Have you demonstrated rehabilitation? Do you have insight into what caused you to engage in fighting and what you’ve learned?
- Gather all documents surrounding the event. All certified arrest and court records
- Obtain letters of reference to show how you’ve changed
- Compose a letter of the sequence of events in your own words (no excuses, just facts, can include personal contributing factors/situation)
I love that you have a big heart and want to role model the best for your daughter. You sound like a natural nurse to me. There is nothing I read in your story that should prevent you from becoming Daisy, RN.
Do not beat yourself up over this. The truth will set you free. I guarantee that once this is no longer a secret and you take actionable steps, you will no longer feel ashamed and you’ll be back in control of your future.
note: I practice nursing in California, and this does not constitute legal advice. Check with your own state/ BON, consider an attorney, and please read several threads here about a Criminal Background and Nursing