How to Become a Nurse if You Have Criminal Charges on File?

One of the most common questions I am asked concerns how to go about becoming a nurse when you have a criminal record stemming from domestic problems such as a very messy ending to a marriage or relationship.

Nurses are the most trusted professionals for Honesty and Ethics as evidenced by annual Gallup Polls from 2002 to the present. That means nurses have to live up to a strict code of standards and need to have a squeaky clean background. Domestic issues can become very messy with charges being filed at every breath.

Usually the writer tells me a story of being the victim and says they can get the charges expunged. So this is the FIRST step you need to take and DO IT as soon as you can!!! Don’t wait.

Get away from the situation. If this means you need to move, make every effort to do so. It shows that you are trying to stay out of trouble with this person and that it isn’t going to be an easy thing for them to continue to harass you and press charges that don’t stick. If you have a legal system in place, seek their advice and help to do this.

Contact your state’s Board of Nursing and explain your situation and follow their advice to the letter.

When you apply for nursing school, make an appointment with the Dean and discuss your situation. Let him/her know what the Board of Nursing has told you and present copies of all your paperwork showing all charges have been dropped and expunged from your record.

You might be able to attend and even graduate from a nursing school, but you will NOT be able to sit for the NCLEX if you have a criminal record that has not been expunged.  If you can’t take the NCLEX, you cannot practice as a nurse.

Many states require fingerprinting before they will issue your license. Employers will run a background check, and these can vary with the company providing the information. So be upfront with potential employers and let them know ahead of time that you have expunged your record of these charges. Should they show up in the background check or fingerprinting process, you have the paperwork to prove they have been resolved.

Never try to cover up or be untruthful about having been involved in something illegal. Get all of the information, take the necessary steps to resolve the problem right away, and keep copies of all of the paperwork. Keep an extra copy in a safe place away from your home as well. Take action to stay out of the situation in the future.

Don’t try to just ignore the situation and hope no one finds out. That can be more detrimental to your career. Trust is an essential trait for nurses and if you are not honest, you will find yourself looking for another career.