Can DUI keep you out of Nursing?

  1. Hi I am new to this board. I was accepted into the nursing program at Comm. College of Phila. and I have already taken all of the classes needed except for the 4 nursing classes which I was to start in Sept. I got all the required shots, CPR cert., checkup by my doc, dentist, child abuse screening and my criminal background. Well 2 years ago I had a drinking and driving arrest. However, on my paper it says "Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance" Well it was just alcohol but they (school officials) don't know that. They are telling me that there is a good chance that I will not be admitted into the program because of this! I have worked so hard to get to this point - can they really do this to me for a misdemeanor? If anyone knows anything about the laws concerning this I would appreciate hearing from you. My classes are supposed to start in 2 weeks, I paid my tuition in cash, I bought all $500 worth of the books and I bought the ugly uniforms already! They are having a committee meeting tomorrow morning to decide on my fate, wish me luck!
  2. Visit Karen K profile page

    About Karen K

    Joined: Aug '01; Posts: 11
    Admissions dept. of suburban hospital - bed control


  3. by   essarge

    While I am no expert on this, I would contact an attorney ASAP! See what he can do about getting your record expunged. Also if your school is looking at the "controlled substance" part of it, you may want to get copies of your court records showing that it was a DIU, with only alcohol involved.

    Are they going to allow you to attend this "committee meeting" to give your side of the story? I don't understand how they could hold this against you if you have already had your criminal background cleared and it was a misdemeanor!

    See what your rights are by talking to an attorney NOW!! Read your student handbook and see if there is anything in there that states this could keep you out of the program and if you have the right to be at this "meeting".

    Good luck!!! Let us know what happens.
  4. by   BrandyBSN
    I know it stinks, but yes, they can keep you out of nursing school for that. There is no discrimination law when it comes to alcohol and drug related offenses. Because of the schools athority to select its attendance, they have a right to say no to your application. I know this is tough, and you can try to fight it, but I am not sure that you have a legal "leg to stand on". I know that several nursing students here have been kicked out for MIPs (Minor in Possession of Alcohol). If that is legal, I am sure the same would apply for a DUI. I am sorry this is happening to you, and I know it must be rough, and I am trying to be supportive as I can be, but I must say... You made a very poor decicion, yes, I understand that anyone can make a poor decision, but you really could have hurt someone. I feel for you, but I would also understand your nursing programs view on it too. As nurses, we are responsible for peoples lives on a daily basis. They might see your act as being against that value. You were drinking, while driving, and they might see that as a disregard for your life, as well as any other persons' lives that might have been on the road with you. Its a hard thing to review rationally... I really do wish you the best, and PRAY that you never ever did that again (ever). If you can get a committee meeting, try to go in and explain to them that it was 2 years ago, you have learned a lot since then, and have tried to do your best to be a more responsible adult. If they dont listen, and dont take all of that into account, find a more understanding nursing program. Tuition should be refundable, and most colleges will let you sell your books back for full price before the 3rd week of classes begin. Good luck, I am sure you will have a bumpy road ahead. Let us know how it goes!

    Last edit by BrandyBSN on Aug 22, '01
  5. by   crnasomeday
    Count yourself lucky that at least you are finding out now. There was a graduate nurse around here a couple of months ago that found out, after finishing all her years of schooling, that she would not be allowed to take the NCLEX because of a couple misdemeanor charges, so even if your school accepts you, you may run into problems later. At least now you have a heads up so that you can check into this.
  6. by   Karen K
    No, Im not allowed to attend the meeting. But I was allowed to write something, it was supposed to be my account of what happened. Of course I included a heartfelt plea for my admittance into the course.
    I will find out in the next couple of days my fate.
    In the meantime I wanted to put out another question, does anyone know if all the allied health professions are this rigid with thier entrance requirements (just in case)? Not that I am really very interested in anything else, but what can I do? Also does anyone know what an OR Tech makes? Thanks for all your help and support.
  7. by   dicey
    I think its pretty crap if the 'powers that be' don't accept you. I know its not a problem in Australia, New Zealand or the U.K. I'm sure you have been punished already.
    Good luck.

    A good friend of mine in nursing school had a DUI lurking in her past. While she expressed great concern about this to me, it was NEVER an issue for school, or when she took her boards for that matter. The only thing these kinds of charges can legally keep you from doing is working with the elderly. Your school is just being picky. My best advice to you is to find another school. PLEASE keep us posted on the results of this meeting!

    I used to work at an inpatient drug & alcohol treatment facility, and I have to add just one thing... SHAME ON YOU BRANDY!! Karen has been punished enough already by law enforcement, herself, her school, etc. She doesn't need it from you. Guilt is not a motivating factor for rehabilitation.

  9. by   Nursz-R-Awsm
    Karen K, best of luck with your situation. I hope the powers that be can see beyond past mistakes and know that you are making an honest effort.

    Brandy, I am actually a bit surprised at your response after reading your posts for awhile. Do you actually think she was able to appreciate anything you said after "shame on you"? Many of us have made foolish choices in our youth.
  10. by   BrandyBSN
    I do agree with you, and Karen, I appologize. I guess DUIs hit a big chord with me, as my 11 year old cousin has to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair (cant use her legs at all) because of a 22 year old who was drinking and driving, and hit her as she was crossing the street. The girl who was drinking ran a red light. Sara (my cousin) was using a crosswalk, and it was still light outside. She was walking home from a meeting after school. So sad, she loved being active, and running around, and someone who shouldnt have been driving took all that away from her.

    I realize that guilt is not a motivating factor to rehab. I feel like I did offer good advise, and I hope that your nursing program takes everything into consideration when making their decision. Each case is individual.

    And you may be right, I shouldnt have said "Shame on you". You have already been punished, and I really do hope that you learned from your experience, and have made better decisions since then.

    Good luck, and keep us posted.

  11. by   CEN35
    best answer..................check with your state see if you can get licensure.....before even finishing school......if you can they have no reason to keep you out......if they try get a good lawyer
  12. by   crnasomeday
    A little off the subject, but I was just curious where you all got the information that guilt is not a motivating factor for treatment & rehabilitation. (This is not to say that I think saying "Shame on you" was a very therapeutic method of communication). As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict for the past 12 years, I can tell you from personal experience that guilt is indeed a motivating factor for a person to seek treatment. It is not just that way for me either, and I know this from the countless numbers of AA & NA meetings I have attended over the years. I have listened to hundreds of people recount their personal stories, and for many, many of us it was a sense of personal shame and guilt that first led us to seek help.
  13. by   essarge
    Well said Lou!

    People sometimes forget that we have all done things in our lives that aren't so good!! But most of us learned from those experiences. That is what life is all about. A learning experience.

    Karen, I really hope that things turn out well for you and I hope that the committe rules in your favor!

    Please let us know what happens!! My thoughts are really with you on this one!!
  14. by   Karen K
    Well the committee met and decided that they want me to get more info. They want me to get proof in writing that it was just alcohol and not controlled substances. Well I went to the probation officer and ask her to write me a letter. She wrote me a letter but it wasn 't what they need. She wrote that I never came up positive on a drug test during my probation (THEY NEVER EVEN DRUG TESTED ME!) She listed the offence as being DUI of alcohol / controlled substance and told me that is how they have to write it! Apparently she doesnt care if I get into nursing school or not. So I went to the Clerk of Quarter Sessions and got a copy of the acutal police report. It listed my breath alcohol results and it also had a brief description written by the cop as to what happened. Well he wrote that it was dui of alcohol. I was so happy I thought I found the proof they wanted. So I took it over to school and the dept head said it wasn't good enough! It doesn't get much clearer than that! If there were drugs involved it would be on the report I told her. She asked if I had a lawyer, which I did, she wants him to write a letter saying that it was only alcohol and not drugs now. So I talked to the lawyer he said he would write the letter and they committee will get together again next Wednesday to decide my fate once again.

    I think they are just making me jump through hoops for them at this point.

    By the way, yes I did learn from my mistake, no I will never drink and drive again. If I have so much as a glass of wine with dinner I wont drive for the rest of the day.

    Well all I can do is wait now. If they shut me out it will probably be too late to get into any other program at that point, so I will be royally screwed. I did get in contact with the Pennsylvania Boards and I was told that a DUI of alcohol is not something they usually bar you from taking the boards for. But controlled substance would be, why they don't differentiate the two on criminal background sheets I don't know! But it is all done on an individual basis and each case is different.

    Again, thanks for all your support!