Felons everywhere can attest to the fact that a felony record makes life more difficult. There are so many restrictions in practically all areas.
Promising careers are lost. Plans for education are also either put on hold or lost altogether.
Entering the medical field is extremely difficult for felons due to the standards that are set, the easy access to sensitive personal information, and the scrutiny that comes with being a felon.
Since it is possible for a felon to become a nurse, can a felon successfully pursue and attain a medical degree and become licensed as a doctor?
This blog post examines the question of whether a felon can become a doctor.
- Medical School Admission
- Important Factors
- Application Process
- Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Doctor
Medical School Admission
Medical schools across the U.S. struggle with the question of dealing with criminal histories in their admission process. Some medical schools ask only about felonies while others inquire about any legal problems, including traffic violations. It is up to each school to determine the criteria for admission, especially regarding legal issues.
There is a difference between having a felony conviction and being charged with a felony that was later either dropped or lowered to a misdemeanor.
However, even if charges are dropped, having a felony charge may still appear on a background check, especially if persons had been fingerprinted. There is a national fingerprint database that is frequently accessed by medical schools in a background check. Again, it depends on the school.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) uses a national background check service for member schools.
A factor in any felony conviction is the nature of the crime. There is a general reluctance on the part of medical schools to admit students who may later not be able to become licensed or obtain necessary credentials to practice medicine.
Crimes that tend to be most problematic for potential medical students involve crimes of moral turpitude: lying, cheating, or fraud.
Other crimes typically not accepted by medical schools are related to the professional care patients might receive. Among these offenses are drug related ones, sexual crimes, or ones involving violence. There is always a concern of public perception to any type of felony for future doctors.
Drug related offense may seem like lesser crimes. The concern is that there is a higher rate of drug abuse among doctors, who have easy access to drugs.
Before a new doctor can prescribe controlled substances, they must be granted a Drug Enforcement Administration certificate of registration. This can be difficult to accomplish.
Felons with drug offenses involving illegal drugs actually have a better chance for medical school admission than those involving prescription medications.
As in any success story for felons, it is important for those considering applying for medical school to be completely honest about everything in their legal history whether it involves a felony conviction or not.
To not disclose all of the details invites being rejected in the application process or being dismissed from medical school if information regarding a felony record later comes to light.
When disclosing such information, remember that some medical schools will consider the circumstances of a felony. For instance, is the felony a one-time situation or is it part of a longer legal history and a predictor of possible future crimes or unacceptable, unethical behavior? It can make a difference.
Of course, since it does depend on each medical school’s admission policies, it can be extremely helpful to know about the policies of any school considered for application.
For felons, it is essential to document the steps they have followed following their release from prison about how they have rehabilitated themselves.
Have they gone through drug treatment if it applies or obtained whatever counseling or therapy they might have needed?
Documentation of volunteer work and other evidence of a healthy, positive connection with the community is critical.
A significant part of the application process for medical schools, in addition to academic standards, is the written personal statement and the accompanying interview.
A survey of medical schools in the U.S. revealed that 65% of those who participated in the survey considered the following qualities critical for doctors to possess: motivation, maturity, compassion, leadership, and integrity.
Applicants with at least one of these traits had a much better chance for admission. Preparation for medical school application indicates the importance of the personal statement, letters of recommendation, and doing practice interviews.
A very important question for felons to focus on in their situation is self-honesty. That is to ask of themselves and those who know them is how they measure on those traits.
It is easy to view felons as lacking in those characteristics. Evidence is needed to demonstrate them.
An important consideration for those felons wanting to pursue a medical career is to go through the legal process of having their record expunged. This shows that the legal system has evaluated their situation as representing one meriting having that criminal record wiped clean.
Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Doctor
An important part of this whole issue is the support of family and friends.
This is when they can step forward and be honest with their loved one on how they view them on the important criteria. Don’t lie to them. If there are concerns, bring them up so they can be addressed. Don’t let them set themselves up for failure.
This is typically when felons decide to continue to live an honest life or return to their criminal ways. Applying for medical school is a major step in returning to society and becoming a caring, ethical professional. It is expensive to attend medical school, but there are loans available.
Do everything possible to support their dream and help them succeed.
When considering a possible medical career, it is important.
What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a doctor with a felony? What was like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.