Many felons looking for work consider going into the medical field, because there are plenty of high paying job opportunities all across the US. However, the reality is that its much harder to get hired in health care for people who have criminal records.
Some ex cons already have medical degrees and want to go back to their careers after getting out of prison. Other felons consider getting degrees as a medical assistant, a phlebotomist or a nurse, hoping to get a steady job that pays well.
There are a number of reasons why the medical field is so attractive to felons:
– Field is growing every year
– There are many job opening all across the states
– high pay: $35K-$80K depending on the profession
– career growth opportunities
The big question is: can felons work in the medical field?
Health care jobs open to felons
Overall, the field of medicine in our country offers very few felon friendly jobs.
Clinics, hospitals, nursing facilities and medical centers have very strict hiring policies and extensive background checks. Generally most places will avoid hiring someone with a felony, especially because there are so many candidates vying for one position.
Here is a list of jobs that a felon has a small chance of getting. It helps tremendously if you have a degree, appropriate license/certification and prior work experience in the field.
Nurse aid (CNA)
Home health care aid
Medical administrative assistant
Typically, a convicted felon will NOT be able to get the following jobs:
– Doctor (MD)
– Physician assistant
– Nurse (RN/LPN)
– Surgical Tech
If you have a felony that is related to sexual or physical abuse, murder, manslaughter, other types of violence, drugs and theft, you pretty much have no chance to get a job in the medical profession.
Crimes related to theft, fraud, and any kind of dishonesty and deceit will also make it very challenging to enter the medical field. This is because most employees need to protect patient information and ensure their overall safety.
Can a felon go to medical school?
Many felons want to know if its possible to enroll into medical school after getting out of prison.
In general, this largely depends on the type of felony you were convicted for as well as the policies of a particular medical school.
The vast majority of medical schools in America prefer not to accept convicted felons because they will not be able to get a license to practice medicine after graduating. The licensing boards of most states do not allow convicted felons to get any kind of medical license unless their records have been expunged.
Keep in mind that there is very stiff competition to get into medical school even without any negative factors on an application. If you have a felony, you need to have stellar academic performance and test results, as well as other impressive points on your resume, for the admissions committee to consider your application over someone who has not been in prison.
If your goal is to pursue higher education, there are many other more felon-friendly college degrees and majors than medicine.
Licensing and Certifications
Typically, professional health care jobs require you to get a license after completing an accredited education program. This is where things can get confusing.
Different states have different licensing requirements and policies regarding granting licenses to convicted felons.
For example, if you want to become a phlebotomist, California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Washington have state regulations for this professional license. However, in other state in the US, a phlebotomist does not need to have a state level certification to be hired.
There are also a number of independent licensing boards in each medical field that also have their specific rules regarding criminal records of applicants.
For example, if you want to become a medical assistant, you will need to be certified by one of three licensing boards: American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), American Medical Technologists (AMT) and National Healthcare Association (NHA). Each has their own policies regarding felons. However, they all do a criminal background check on all applicants, so being honest is essential.
This means that you need to find out about specific regulations in your state for the career you are interested in pursuing, before you spend time and money applying to different programs, studying for exams, etc.
If it turns out that the medical career you initially hoped to pursue is not an option for you due to the nature of your felony, consider other job options.
How to increase your chances of getting a job in the medical field
While medical careers are considered to be off limits for most people with criminal records, even misdemeanors, there are still some success stories that can inspire you to pursue your dream.
There have been individuals with felony convictions who have been able to become licensed nurses, phlebotomists, medical assistants, CNAs, etc.
Here are some tips to help you succeed in this career path:
– Be honest on your school and licensing applications
– If you have drug related convictions, go through a reputable drug rehab program
– Have references that can attest to your good character traits such as honesty, trustworthiness, ability to care for others, etc
– Do volunteer work: this will be a favorable point on your application
– Prepare a personal statement that explains how you have transformed since you have left prison and lessons learned from your criminal past.
– Document all steps you have taken to rehabilitate yourself after getting out of prison. This is something you will want to discuss at length during your admissions interviews.
– Apply to many different schools and programs. Don’t put your eggs in just one basket. You never know which admissions committee may take a liking to you and would want to give you a second chance.
Alternative medicine careers for felons
If you love taking care of people’s health and see this as your perfect job, you may want to consider various alternative medicine fields.
– Regenerative medicine
– Ayurvedic medicine
– Chinese medicine
There are many online certification programs available. Moreover, many of these professions don’t require a license. Also, the programs are more welcoming and understanding of individuals with unique backgrounds, even felony convictions.