Will a misdemeanor on my record harm my chances of getting into nursing school?

By | 2021-05-07T16:33:13-04:00 July 13th, 2015|16 Comments
Dear Nancy,

Will I be accepted into the nursing program if I have a misdemeanor on my record? I was in a terrible situation, and I didn’t do anything to deserve the charge. My story will prove me innocent, but I’m not sure if anyone will listen to me. I’m applying for nursing school. It is a lifelong dream of mine to be an RN.


Dear Paul,

It is impossible to comment on a specific nursing education program’s approach to students who apply to their program with a criminal conviction, whether a felony or a misdemeanor. Some selected, general comments can be made, however.

The first place to explore about criminal convictions and nursing education and practice is your state’s nurse practice act, including its rules and regulations. The act and rules will supply you with initial information upon which you can build.

If you are going to file an application for a specific nursing education program, it would be a good idea to check their student catalog, either online or in print, to determine admission requirements. Some schools may not accept an application from a student with a criminal background while others may. Keep in mind that most nursing education programs do a criminal background check on all student applicants.

If the school has a policy that does not ban an applicant with certain criminal convictions, the second concern is when you would start your clinical rotations. Healthcare institutions also require students using their facilities to go through a criminal background check and many will not accept students who have a criminal conviction. The policies range from a total ban of such students to prohibiting students with certain convictions (e.g., assault and battery, theft) from clinical rotations.

You would do best to contact a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who represents nurses and nursing students to get a specific opinion about any cases that have been decided concerning licensure denial when a criminal conviction is involved, about the specific school you are considering, what clinical sites that school uses for their students, and so forth.

Another area the attorney will also discuss with you (if you overcome these, and other possible, hurdles) is if you can obtain a license in the state in which you decide to practice. Several states now prohibit healthcare applicants for licensure, including those applying for nursing licensure, to obtain a license if convicted of any crime while some prohibit licensure due to convictions for specified crimes.



Explore your Higher Education options at Nurse.com/Schools.


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About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.


  1. Avatar
    Noah February 24, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Dear Nancy,

    I am concerned about not being accepted into nursing school do to having an MIC (Minor in Consumption) on my record from my first year in college. Will this misdemeanor completely prevent me from becoming a nurse? Would expunging my record be helpful in this situation? I have a near perfect GPA, and the thought of being rejected for making such a dumb mistake at 18 would be terrible.


  2. Avatar
    Heather January 14, 2017 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    Hello, I was trying to apply for an Online Medical Assistant program and the admission adviser told me i would not be able to do anything in the Medical field with Misdemeanors. Is this true?

  3. Avatar
    Loretta October 9, 2017 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Will a theft misdeaminor with probation keep my grand daughter from a nursing career in Texas. This happened when she was 18. This is her one and only offense no traffic violations.

  4. Avatar
    Courtney Strom October 28, 2017 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    I have a dream of becoming a nurse. I also have two misdemeanor theft convictions and a DUI on my record. My story is unique in I found my sister passed away and went on a downward spiral. I am happy to say that I have my life back on track now and am going to pursue my dream of becoming a RN. If I have to get my record expunged I will, but I am going to follow my dream and no one is going to tell me I cannot be a nurse! I will find a way because life is too short to worry about the past. I believe in where theres a will theres a way! Good luck to all of you. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Pearlie M Johnson October 21, 2018 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      Hey my name is pearlie and i just wanted to know did you get in the nursing field. What steps you took as well . Being that you had theft on your record.

  5. Avatar
    Mark December 10, 2017 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Will resisting arrest from when i was 18 affect my acceptance into nursing school and licensure. I am 34 now and live in mass.

  6. Avatar
    Pearlie M Johnson October 21, 2018 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    was wondering the same thing about shoplifting.

  7. Avatar
    Jackie October 24, 2018 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I did pca work (personal care assistant) at a facility and at a client’s home in 2005-2007. Well, I couldn’t do anymore weekends at her home, and I told her. She didn’t want to pay me. So I had taken a personal check, written it and cashed it. She pressed charges and I got put on probation, but I’ve never been in trouble before this or after. But I was working and was doing my clinicals.

    I got a letter stating I had pending charges, so I went to court and that’s when I got the misdemeanor and put on probation to pay her back. But they put my name on the registry and I never had a can license. I can’t work in that field? It’s got misappropriation of money on there and a CNA #. But I wasn’t a CNA. I don’t understand.

    Can I start over in another state? Take my cna again, the test and exam, then work?

    Please help.

  8. Avatar
    Lili murray November 8, 2018 at 3:54 am - Reply

    I was wondering i have a couple degrees had my cna license would like to take it again due to over lapse but got disorderly conduct here in Michigan does anyone know if this will affect my nursing career ?

  9. Avatar
    Patricia Powell December 31, 2018 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Hi I am interesting on becoming an RN. How ever in 2013 I got in some trouble and got a misdemeanor assault with an deadly weapon charge because I was trying to protect myself. I had gotten into an altercation with someone and had tried to leave before it escalate into something huge. I had gotten into my car to leave and as I was pulling off, the person jumped in front of my car and I swerved to avoid them but tapped them with my right front bumper. I stayed there as she called the police and that is how I got the misdemeanor assault charge but no conviction. I have spoken with the BON in my state and was told that it wouldn’t be a problem. What I am afraid of is when it is time for me to do the clinicals will there be any problems. Isn’t the background check required before you do your clinicals?

  10. Avatar
    Eddy February 9, 2019 at 3:31 am - Reply

    I also would like to know about the rules in texas. My son has a few minor charges: misdemeanor debit credit abuse and he was charged with but not convicted of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Would this be of issue

  11. Avatar
    Richard March 10, 2019 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Hi, I got my DUI in 2014 and it was later expunged in 2018. My question is, do I have to click yes when a School of Nursing Application/Admissions offices asks if i have a conviction. I know that with a DUI and expungement I must disclose it to the State for licensure but do I have to disclose it to the school itself. I mean it should not show on a background check if it is expunged right? From the feedback Ive gotten from some schools, they claim a clinical facility will not accept me as a student. But with an expungement, they shouldnt even legally find out right?

    • Heather Cygan
      Heather Cygan March 11, 2019 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Richard. I would check with a legal nurse attorney to confirm. You can find out here: https://www.taana.org/

  12. Avatar
    Shawn November 28, 2019 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    Hello, I have always wanted to be a nurse. I started my professional career as a surgical technician and have years of operating room experience. However. In 2014 I was convicted of a sexual misdemeanor. I have served my time in county jail, parole and probation. Since then I have landed two jobs and kept them, have my own place and applied for and got accepted into school. Next year will be 5 years since released and my probation is completed. I will graduate with my Bachelor’s in Biology in May 2020 and I have been granted a pardon. Do you think it would be possible for me to study and practice as a nurse? I am looking to apply for a nursing program for fall 2020. Thanks for your help

  13. Avatar
    Moname December 3, 2019 at 10:01 am - Reply

    The mistakes from their younger days do not have to prevent potential nursing school students from getting into nursing programs.  Before students can determine if their DUI will affect their chances of getting into nursing school, they should first check with the school to determine if a DUI affects admission.

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