Working With Felons

Nurses General Nursing


One my co-workers, a BSN was fired yesterday because she had a previous felony record that was drug and larcency related prior to becoming a nurse. She said the conviction was in 1985. They fired her because she lied on the application 4 years ago. She told me she lied because she would not have been given a chance if she didn't.

How do you feel about felons holding nursing positions / Lic. especially in these worried times?

I perceive things today as there are no 2nd chances and we are worried about them working in almost everything except fastfood and unskilled labor areas. I think by doing this we are making the problem worse in the long run.

I guess I am a little upset because no matter what our ER lost a good one, and "good ones" are very hard to come by.

So, how do you other nurses feel about things like this?



1,301 Posts

Hi. Your post indicates how placing the same blanket on everyone in the criminal justice system may not always be in the best interest of that person or the public. In your case, the nurse made a terrible mistake in her past and has apparently paid for it. However, living a lie is not the way to go. As we know, one lie leads to another and then so on. This nurse will never experience the freedom that she deserves by lying about her past when required to inform others. I wonder if the nursing school she attended required that she inform them about her felony?

Even though we all need to, did this particular nurse review the nurse practice act before going to nursing school knowing that she would be considered an exceptional case? Did she contact the board of nursing to get the green light for practicing as a nurse? I don't have a problem working with anyone who has gone through the proper channels to get a certification or license. When an authority such as the board of nursing gives an ok on a situation like this, then the responsibility and accountability falls on them if something or someone goes from good to ugly.

jschut, BSN, RN

2,743 Posts

I personally feel that anyone can make a mistake in their younger days, and that should not be held against them forever! How is anyone expected to "grow up" and become productive if everything we have ever done is against us? What if every one of us that have done something wrong was put out of nursing? The shortage would be a lot shorter than it is now! If the mistake is owned up to, and a thorough investigation made, then why not give the person a chance?

Not everyone of us had a perfect childhood or young adulthood, but in every persons life, there comes a time when they "grow up" mentally. If this person was stable enough to make it through nursing school w/o problems, that would be a plus too...

I guess I am just going on because I have had some down times in my life too that people might think were "unsavory". But now, I am a productive member of society and am in Nursing School to achieve a life long dream, and I dare and defy anyone to try and take it from me!:(

Tell your friend to hold her head up and fight it! And don't lie on anymore applications (that was the wrong part!).

Good Luck to her!



135 Posts

Hi, I sort of feel the same way. Everyone makes mistakes and some people get caught and others don't. I also think it has a lot to do with what the circumstances are. I am not condoning drug use here, but getting caught with pot at 19 is different than getting caught with cocaine at 30. ( Just my opinion !!) But I do know a nurse that had a felony for assault, now she explained it as a minor catfight, but as I got to know her, more of the story came out, along with the fact she had difficulty controlling her temper. This to me seems more serious than some things I have heard people getting fired for. My question is, Isn't this stuff looked into when you apply for your nursing license? We had to fill out a part on our license application about any prior felonies. Do they also do a background check??


6,011 Posts


I don't think the BON does a background check unless something either from the school or from the applicant cues them to do so.

I worked with a girl who had a larceny "conviction" on her "record." She had gone into a convenience store after class at her high school. She had books and a purse--like they all do--and picked up some crackers, chips and a 12 oz OJ. She said her hands were full so she put the OJ under her arm to carry it.

There was a line and the cashier looked at the items on the counter and rang it up. When she got back to the school she realized the OJ was still under her arm. We are talking about 89 cents here.

BUT the security guard had followed her and called the cops.

When she got to the police department she was terrified. Her dad paid the "fine" and she went home.

THEN 5 years later, on her application to work when she put NO.... the hospital......DID run an arrest record and...........yep, by paying that fine and never showing up at court.....


There are always two sides to every story. It took two years and attorney fees, but she finally was allowed to work as a nurse.


I feel that if they have "overcome" their problems (drugs, for instance), they should be given a second chance. However, your co-worker was fired, not for being a felon, but for lying. The lying shows ( in the minkd of the employer ) someone with poor judgement. While I do believe she should be given a second chance I also believe she should have been honest about her past.

I'm sorry your friend lost her job. I hope she finds a job she likes.


58 Posts

I am a little worried and wondered if anyone can help..I graduate in December from the LVN program and am afraid that something like this will stop me from getting my license.I just found out I have a felony arrest on my record for(get this)failure to appear for a divorce proceding!!My ex-and his attorneys knew I was in the hospital(and yes it was an emergency)yet because I was young, and had no money(like his mommy and daddy did)I actually did get arrested on this-it was in 1996..The bond was later returned to me and I never thought anything about it until now-----Help what should I do??

She shouldn't have lied - on the other hand, they shouldn't have fired her, IMO.

Her shame probably prevented her from putting it on the application.

If she has learned from her mistake, then she shouldn't be fired.

Of course, she shouldn't have lied but she may not be at the place where she can come out and tell a stranger her background and her mistakes........


150 Posts

That's a tough one. We had to go through a background check before we could take the boards, so if your co-worker got that far in the process, I'm surprised they were fired this far down the line. I think the operative issue here is lying. If a person can't be trusted to be truthful on a job application, can they be trusted in other areas?? In this day and age, you can't take anything for granted. Still you are right that good nurses are harder to come by; and who's to say who deserves a second chance and who doesn't.


58 Posts

So do they not look at arrests then,just convictions??That's a relief!Also should I put that on my application since there was no conviction or what do you think?Thanks for reponding


53 Posts

This nurse should have been honest about her past, but it is totally understandable why she wasn't. In todays's climate, with the lack of good nurses, she can get a job anywhere. Perhaps she will use this as a learning experience and move on. "Oh well, lost that job, NEXT!!"


53 Posts

Well I know she lied but I also understand what she said about not being given a second chance. Especially now days where people do not want any felons working in any position of trust.

I don't know all the ins and outs about the State board and her. I am sure that if she lied to them her lic will be revoked. The hospital is sure to notify them.

It just strikes me as strange how a banker, doctor, a movie star or a public figure like that Washington DC mayor gets busted (he got re-elected) or a president who commits perjury and we as the public forgive. But let someone steal a car (what she said she and her boyfriend did and had drugs on her when she was caught) and people are worried about granny because of something that happened 16 years ago. Just strikes me as strange how we as Americans think.

Have you ever thought about where all the felons go after getting out of jail? Some go back, some get smarter and more dangerous, but some reform. Where do they go? They work on our cars, our airplanes, they are the repairman we let into our homes, they become teachers, lawyers, and yes even nurses. Do you know the background of all your neighbors or your kid's little league coaches? Something to think about.

I know how I feel, could have used her today. But I just wanted to see how other nurses felt.

Just my opinion


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