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Can a Felon Work in the Medical Field?

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A felon’s plans can easily be upset after a conviction. The career that you planned for may be gone. What now? Can you start over by working toward a medical career? Let’s answer the question.

Can a felon work in the medical field?

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • Preparing for a Medical Career
  • Medical Fields Less Difficult to Enter
  • Medical Fields More Difficult to Enter
  • Background Check?
  • Licensure
  • A Plan for Success


Preparing for a Medical Career

For those felons wanting to enter the medical field, the first step will be to get the education needed for a medical career. Of course that will depend on what area of the medical field you are interested in.

Each field has its own requirements, including education, training, and possibly some type of apprentice or internship.

A healthcare program can take anywhere from 16 months to four years to complete, depending on the particular field.

It’s a long road to become a medical professional even for those with no criminal record. It starts with the education to earn a college degree and maintaining a high GPA, usually above 3.0 or even 3.5. 

While there is no set major required for a medical career, it’s usually best to pursue a degree in a science-related field.

Just getting into college can be a challenge for someone with a felony conviction as more than 60% of colleges currently consider criminal histories in decisions

Medical Fields Less Difficult to Enter

Not all medical fields are as difficult for felons to enter, but it is still a major challenge. A lot of that depends on the closeness of patient contact that you have. 

Those medical fields that demand less contact with patients or the general public are easier to pursue.

Some of this is the same in any job that felons may seek. Those jobs that have less contact with the public are often easier for getting a start.

While medical professions are certainly not the same as typical jobs, the same idea applies.

If you want to work in an area of the medical profession that involves basic lab work or working within a specific area, you may have a better shot at it.

Some of the typical medical fields that may be slightly easier to work in are such areas as a medical assistant or a nurse aid. These are positions that require more supervision and may be a better chance for employment.

A home healthcare aid position may also be easier to get into. Medical coding also may be an area that will be more possible for felons.

A medical administrative assistant career may also be more possible. Again, this is the type of career that requires less direct patient contact and has more stringent supervision.

Medical Fields More Difficult to Enter

Just as there are particular medical fields that are somewhat easier for felons to enter, there are also a number of medical careers that are quite difficult to attain.

Some of these are ones that require a higher degree of patient contact and are also often seen as demanding a higher level of public trust. 

Of course, felons are not generally known for being trustworthy or having the degree of integrity that is required to work in these areas.

A felony that involves a sexual offense, crimes of violence such as murder or manslaughter, a drug-related offense, and any type of theft will work against you in getting into the medical field.

Crimes involving theft, fraud, or any kind of dishonesty and deceit will also make it very challenging to enter the medical field. These crimes of moral turpitude will create major concern relating to protecting patient information and ensuring privacy.

Some of these medical careers are working as a doctor, nurse, physician assistant, paramedic, radiologist, surgical tech, and others.

Background Check?

Most positions in the medical field have a rather strict background check. For example, most medical schools run background checks

The types of background check in the medical field look for felonies and other serious crimes in addition to arrests, misdemeanors, and other convictions. These are all important factors in any decision relating to starting a medical career.

Having a felony charge may still appear on a background check even if the charges were dropped, especially if fingerprints were taken. Many medical schools or other medical training programs use a national fingerprint database when doing a background check.  

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) uses a national background check service for member schools. The strict hiring policies of hospitals, medical centers, and nursing facilities demands a rigid background check.


Most healthcare jobs require a license after completing an accredited education program. There are different licensing requirements and policies regarding granting licenses to convicted felons.

It depends on the specific medical area as well as the state regarding licensing requirements. Many medical fields have independent licensing boards, each of which has specific rules and regulations regarding felony and other criminal offenses by any applicants.

As an example, to become a medical assistant, there are three different licensing boards: American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), and National Healthcare Association (NHA). 

Each has different policies regarding licensure, especially as that relates to felons.

A felony conviction may make it difficult to obtain a license to practice in some states. Each state sets specific requirements for obtaining a medical license. In most states, certain types of felony convictions makes you ineligible for a license. 

A Plan for Success

While it is quite challenging to get into the medical field, there are some steps you can follow to give yourself the best chance at success.

First, it is essential to be honest in reporting all information on applications. To not do so is itself a crime that could lead to your perhaps being incarcerated again.

All efforts that you make toward rehabilitation, such as going through a drug program for any drug-related offense could make a difference.

Pursuing some type of volunteer work will help you make a positive contribution and re-establish your connection to the community.

Of course, references are always important. Having someone who knows and trusts you vouch for you on an application will make a difference.

Also, take time to come up with a current resume that documents your work history and your positive accomplishments after your release can be quite beneficial.

Many professional schools look at applications on a case-by-case basis. If you can show that there were mitigating factors that led to your felony conviction, you may be granted an exception.

If yours was a one-time crime instead of a series of convictions, you stand a better chance of getting a favorable review.

It is essential that as you seek to live an honest lifestyle, that you follow the law and be honest in all information you provide.

Not doing so will jeopardize your freedom and could result in going back to jail.

Don’t take that chance. You are not defined by your past mistakes but by how you respond to them. Make a good choice.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to work in the medical field with a felony? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Can a Felon Work in the Medical Field?”

  1. Hi guys,

    Fifteen years ago today I was a top medical assistant in a booming private practice. I was a single mom working towards my RN degree. When I fell victim to an abusive and controlling ‘person’ (can’t quite bring myself to list him as man or human). He seemed to forget that I am a veteran and have the ability to knock a man on his butt if need be -which is what I did. You don’t get to ‘spank’ me without my consent ;0) Well his pride got the best of him and he accused ME of trying to hurt him. Long story short I ended up with an inexpungable (is that a word?) felony. I lost everything: Job, kids (temporarily) home, chance to be an RN, etc. I of course didn’t let that stop me from pushing forward. I went back to school and got my associates in medical billing, Yay! Right? Not quite: though I had my degree and no further incidents since that day I STILL have not been able to work in the medical field. I was told that though I would not be working with patients I wasn’t allowed to work with Medicare or Medicaid accounts with a felony (?) My point is you REALLY need to research the career you want to go to school for BEFORE you spend your money paying for a degree you can’t use. It’s hard out there but you can find a job. I’ve been blessed to have been employed all 15 years. Right now I’m trying to start my own online bookkeeping business. I’m almost there…LG

  2. I am wondering if with a felony that is 11 years old if I should get the radiologic training or is it a waste of time and money, if you find out more let me know, I am in the same boat,

  3. I am a recovering alcoholic. I unfortunately received 3 DUI’s in a 10 year period therefore I am now a felon. My training is in the medical field and I long to get back to it…..is this possible? Seeking answers and direction. Much appreciate any help

  4. Hi. I am a felon. I do not lack good morals and/or ethics. I am highly honorable in all intentions. I was setup on a sting as a middleman, the person who introduced one person to another, and then charged with 6 felonies, so naturally I had to accept a plea deal or face dozens of years behind bars…for introducing one person to another so they could buy some weed. Weed, man. Where it happened…ITS LEGAL NOW. It would take have even been a crime if it happened just 10 years later. If it isn’t a crime now…does that mean it wasn’t actually a crime then? Also…why can’t I get my record expunged if it’s legal now? Because of people who have stigmatized all felons and lumped them all into the same category, which I, and any other rational person, would deem DISCRIMINATION on the basis of personal choice. It is not moral, or ethical, or even intelligent, to disqualify everyone convicted of a felony level crime, not unless we change the way we prosecute and write the law. Maybe we need to eliminate low level felonies so that those charged with lower level offenses aren’t lumped into the same category as murderers and rapists. Maybe we should change the federal laws governing the length of time that your record is visible to prospective employers? Maybe we should stop judging people based on lifestyle choice differences and personal preferences? Maybe our country could use REAL ethics, instead of the pseudo-ethics, of which the author of this article seems to be an advocate. It is unethical to tell a person that a mistake they made decades ago can still effect their employment chances. It is unethical to force people into work they do not wish to do based solely on their criminal record. It is unethical to have a criminal record visible to prospective employers after a reasonable amount of time has passed and rehabilitation is essentalially guaranteed. It is unethical to lump murderers, rapists, armed robbers, wifebeaters, carjackers, junkies, meth-heads, animal abusers, pedophiles, and drug traffickers with low level pot smokers like me. I am appalled at the severity in which the state of Colorado has completely destroyed my life and future, and based completely on an illegal entrapment THAT, if I had the money when I was arrested, WOULD’VE BEEN DESTROYED IN COURT. But I was poor and looking for a few bucks for gas, so apparently I deserved to go to jail and have my life ruined.


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