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Will a misdemeanor prevent me from becoming an LPN?

Wednesday January 4, 2012
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I am thinking of enrolling in an LPN program. I am 41 years old, and after 10 years working in a profession that is going nowhere, I would like to pursue a fulfilling career. My only concern is whether a past misdemeanor charge would sink my dream. I was 18 years old when the incident occurred. I recently went to court to get it expunged. I was charged with false identification and petty theft. Any information you give will be appreciated.

Thank you,
Concerned

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Concerned,

Things are a little different in each state, so you should check with a prospective LPN school in your area regarding admission criteria and also with your state board of nursing (https://www.ncsbn.org/contactbon.htm) regarding background checks/criminal history for eligibility of LPN license. Just for your information, the record can be expunged only from government locales. If it has already been recorded elsewhere or online, it will not be "wiped away" through expungement. Even if it stays on the record, you may be able to complete your education and qualify for the licensure exam anyway.

Regarding future employment as a nurse, employers vary on their requirements and whether or not they do a criminal background check, although it is much more common today. Depending on the nature of the misdemeanor and how long ago it was, it may come up, especially if you apply for a patient care position. In that case, you should be prepared with a light and brief explanation to assure the prospective employer that it was a long time ago, you were young and made a mistake and you have completely turned your life around, etc. You can even say that you see getting into nursing as a great way to make a positive, meaningful contribution to society.

You may find the following Brent's Law response helpful - http://news.nurse.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200881126002. Even though the question/circumstance is very different from yours, the answer is relevant to your situation.

You may want to consult a nurse attorney to fully explore your options and rights. Find one through a referral from The American Association of Nurse Attorneys (www.taana.org) or your state chapter of the American Nurses Association (www.ana.org). If your state has a chapter of the National Federation of LPNs www.nflpn.org, they also may be able to help with finding a nurse attorney in your area.

Best wishes,
Donna


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/asktheexperts/deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.