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How can a nurse once convicted of a felony in Ohio, but with a reinstated license find work as a nurse if state laws prevent it?

Thursday October 10, 2013
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Question:

Dear Donna,

I am an RN in Ohio. I graduated in 2003 and had been working in critical care, primarily open heart recovery, until 2010. In 2010, I committed a felony and was convicted in 2011. My RN license was suspended and was reinstated in May of 2013. I have not been able to find work since being reinstated. It seems state laws prevent me from working in Ohio. Is this true? I have family nearby and cannot move

Do you have any suggestions for what I can do to find a job. I can't afford to do the career coaching. Should I give up on nursing?

Trying to Work

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Trying to Work,

I consulted several experts in Ohio on this matter including legal counsel. Here's what they collectively had to say:

"Depending on the felony the nurse may be correct that he/she is excluded from nursing positions in Ohio. Ohio requires that for all nursing positions that the employer does a criminal records background check (Ohio Revised Code 3701.881). You should look into Senate Bill 38 and Senate Bill 160. There is also a list of crimes that will disqualify an individual from working with children, older adults [the disabled]. Please see the following link for the list of offenses, which disqualify an individual from working with these populations of patients:
(http://www.mtc.edu/health/nursing/pdfs/ConvictionDisqualifiers.pdf).”

"Additionally, Medicare/Medicaid fraud convictions also usually carry some restrictions re: working in a facility which accepts Medicare/Medicaid for five or more years. Otherwise, I don't know of any law that prohibits employment in a healthcare facility based on the conviction."

Based on the above information, you clearly may be prohibited from working in certain settings and with certain segments of the patient population but not banned across the board. I have known of many nurses who were able to overcome similar hurdles in their careers by seeking non-traditional nursing employment opportunities. But rather than rely on traditional job search methods, you will need to focus more on person-to-person networking. Read “Picking up the pieces of your career” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/Pieces).

As the above-referenced article suggests, start volunteering in a health setting while you continue to look for paid employment. Volunteering is a way to get your foot in the door somewhere and often leads to paid employment. Consider the American Red Cross, a free health clinic, mental health crisis phone line and your local public health department as places to volunteer.

I address this situation in great detail, and how to work to overcome it in “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses” (www.nurse.com/ce/7250).

Best wishes,

Donna


Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’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://www. Nurse.com/Events.