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Will a Criminal Record Affect My Nursing Career?

In Alabama, criminal background checks may be required to obtain a nursing license. In addition, they may sometimes be conducted by the Alabama Board of Nursing for licensees under investigation or for nurses who give reason to believe they may have criminal histories or recent charges.

The trend is toward more criminal background checks. This is coming from two directions – employers and insurance companies.

In Alabama, there is no restriction on employers requiring a pre-employment criminal history check and this can include simple arrest, even without conviction of any crime.

Insurance companies have a vested interest because of the assumption that someone who previously committed an offense is more likely to do so in the future. A recent study bears this out.

The American Journal of Nursing published a study this year which showed that previous offenders are far more likely to become repeat offenders with a recidivism rate at 39% (which mirrors an earlier study in the 90’s which showed a 40% rate). (This study is available in a CE credit course from AJN.)

The point is this – employers and insurance companies have a scientific basis for penalizing any nurse with a positive criminal history. The ‘background’ rate for disciplinary action from Nursing Boards nationwide is only 1%, while the rate for previous offenders is 40%. Of course the 60% who did not re-offend isn’t as impressive to them. They have a vested interest in discriminating against nurses with criminal histories as a matter of broad policy. It is unlikely that your particular resume will be able to overcome both the employer’s concerns and the higher premiums that malpractice insurance companies may require.

Can I check my own record?

Yes. The official Alabama Background Check system exists to provide online records searches, and according to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information System:

ABC (Alabama Background Check System) is the official State of Alabama criminal history records check site. Administered by ACJIC, the system allows employers to subscribe to run online searches of Alabama criminal records of employees and prospective employees who provide them with the “right to know” waiver authorizing the search. This ACJIC system is provided in cooperation with the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts and the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

What if I have negative information?

You should contact an attorney who practices criminal defense of nurses for advice on what steps you might take to mitigate or amend criminal records. This includes offenses that aren’t directly related to the practice of nursing. Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies can and do consider any information available.

Our attorneys at Kreps Law Firm, LLC stand ready, willing, and able to help you and defend your Alabama Board of Nursing matter and your criminal charges, if any have been filed. You should not attempt to navigate the administrative hearing process without an attorney. Our initial consultation is confidential and free. Don’t wait! Call us today to discuss your Alabama Board of Nursing matter (866) 348-2889.