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I was convicted of a felony, but it was removed from my background after completing probation. I am in nursing school. Will I get my license?

Wednesday October 30, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I have a question about applying for my nursing license because I was convicted of a felony five years ago, but I completed my probation and the conviction was removed from my background. I am currently a student and am worried about my background check. Will I still qualify to get my nursing license?


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Allie,

Your state Nurse Practice Act and its rules should be consulted to see what, if anything, they say about former convictions, whether a misdemeanor or a felony. Some state nurse practice acts prohibit licensure if there has been a conviction of any crime, while other nurse practice acts and rules provide for an evaluation of the particular conviction by the state board.

When deciding about licensure in that state, the board of nursing may be instructed to weigh such factors as to the actual crime that was the basis of the conviction (e.g., drug possession, forgery), when the conviction took place and whether probation or a jail/prison term was
successfully completed.

Seeking a consultation with a nurse attorney or attorney who works with licensed health professionals would also yield information for you in terms of your questions about licensure.

You will want to tell the attorney with whom you consult that the conviction was removed from your background and what this means for you. Depending on the crime, it may have been removed (expunged) from both the state and federal crime data banks or only from the state data bank. Obviously, this will affect how you answer any questions about convictions on the application for licensure (or any other application, such as an employment application). Your attorney can help you with this issue as well.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.