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Can a Felon Become a Nurse?

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Felons became accustomed to the medical care offered by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) while incarcerated.

There may be mixed feelings about the quality of care received.

Many felons can recall their own medical treatment when going to sick call with an acute illness and being greeted by a friendly, compassionate nurse in the waiting area of the examination room.

Yes, there are nurses in the BOP who actually do care, and they aren’t as rare as they may seem.

After release from prison and trying to decide what type of job or career to pursue, felons shouldn’t forget the compassion that nurse showed them.

The question then becomes for those interested in the medical field, can a felon become a nurse?  A previous blog post covered the question of whether a felon can become a lawyer.

This blog post will cover the question of whether a felon can become a nurse.

  • The Challenge Felons Face
  • A Success Story
  • Steps for Success in Becoming a Nurse
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Nurse


The Challenge Felons Face

As felons know all too well, getting a job in any field is a challenge.  The medical field is actually more difficult to successfully pursue.

Occupations involving not only the personal care of people but having access to sensitive personal information can leave felons out due to their criminal record.

As some stories from those who have tried to become a nurse indicate, the answer from those in a position of authority typically is that to be a nurse requires one to be honest and ethical.

These are traits which many felons lack.

Even if they do not lack these traits, they may be rejected in their efforts at entering nursing school because of the common negative attitude toward felons whether it is fair or not.

For those wanting to complete the education required to become a nurse, they should contact the State Board of Nursing for the state they reside in to determine each school’s criteria for admission.

A Success Story

There are success stories of felons who did become a nurse.

One particular example is of a felon who, after his release from prison, completed a reentry drug treatment program.

He spent considerable time getting his case records, police reports, and character references together along with having his record expunged.

He gathered letters of recommendation from his doctors, counselors, instructors, his employer, and the dean of the school he was attending.  He documented everything positive he had accomplished after his release from prison.

In spite of the long odds, he succeeded in being allowed to take the nurse licensing exam and passed.

Steps for Success in Becoming a Nurse

What were the keys for him in his pursuit of becoming a nurse?

First he was honest every step of the way.  He disclosed all aspects of his criminal record to the nursing faculty and school administration.

He didn’t try to hide anything, and he didn’t downplay the seriousness of what he had done that earned him a felony conviction.

He was open about what he had done to rehabilitate himself after prison.

He had the advantage of time on his side.  It had been seven years since his last conviction with his criminal behavior happening when he was 18.

Then he went through the process of preparing his case to be allowed to become a nurse.

For him, he spent two years collecting the information he needed.  He contacted a lawyer and had a background check completed on himself that revealed a clean record since prison.

He had satisfied all of the requirements of his conviction, paid all fines, and restitution.  He gathered all court documents and relevant police reports.

A very significant part of his case for himself was to change his life.  He had gone through a reentry drug treatment program and gone to counselors.

He no longer associated with those from his criminal past.  He had new friends who sincerely wanted him to succeed.

He strengthened the relationships with his family and had their support.

As a part of his lifestyle change, he regularly did volunteer work with a 12-Step program and other community projects.

The most important thing he did was to not give up whatever happened along the way.  He kept his spirits up, remained positive, and persevered until he achieved a successful outcome.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Nurse

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream such as becoming a nurse, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become that caring, compassionate nurse they encountered at sick call when they were in prison.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a nurse with a felony?  What was like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

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