Felons typically find that most things are challenging when they return to society, especially finding a job. Most of society seems to turn its back on felons, and opportunities are difficult to come by.
Often, felons must look at different career path, which may include returning to school for additional education. While serving their sentence and paying for their crime, some felons might consider a career making a difference for those with medical problems. They could explore a career in nursing.
This blog post will address whether or not a felon can get a nursing degree.
- What Is Nursing?
- Getting a Nursing Degree
- How Much Does Someone with a Nursing Degree Earn?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What Is Nursing?
According to the American Nurses’ Association (ANA), nursing is “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.”
Nursing is an essential component of healthcare and involves those trained in various aspects of medical care. A nurse deals with patients as a member of a healthcare team. He or she assesses and monitors patients to determine what is needed to address their health issues.
A nurse is a patient advocate. He or she is a patient educator, responsible for explaining procedures and treatments to patients and/or family members. A nurse teaches patients how to take medicine, change wound dressings, and use healthcare equipment.
The duties of a nurse include:
- Providing direct patient care
- Assisting physicians in medical procedures
- Operating medical monitoring equipment
- Administering medications
- Offering support to patient family members
- Coordinating discharge planning
There are many skills to become a successful nurse, including:
- Communication skills to discuss patient health concerns
- Emotional skills like patience, compassion, and empathy to work with people who are ill
- Interpersonal skills to be able to work with different members of a treatment team
- Organizational skills to help manage multiple patients and assist with discharge planning
- Problem-solving skills to develop solutions to patients’ problems
Getting a Nursing Degree
To complete a nursing degree, a felon must graduate from an accredited nursing program. There are several options available, including a nursing diploma, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree. An associate degree in nursing usually takes two years to complete whereas a bachelor’s degree in nursing requires about four years of study. Another option is to attend a school that offers a degree program for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.
A bachelor’s degree program requires a student to complete general education classes in addition to nursing coursework.
Typical coursework includes the following classes:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Patient care
- Healthcare law and ethics
Following completion of an accredited nursing program, a candidate for licensure must provide verification of their graduation. Then, he or she must pass the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN exam and may have to undergo a background check, depending on the state.
There are a number of different types of nurses, each with particular educational requirements. A Licensed Vocational Nurse has the lowest level of licensure. An LVN has only one year of nursing education that includes the basic nursing skills required for patient care.
A Registered Nurse (RN) certification is standard in most hospital settings. An RN specializes in a type of patient care, such as critical care, trauma nursing, oncology, respiratory/pulmonary care, pain management, or mental health.
An RN with a graduate degree is an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) whose specialty is Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, and Clinical Nurse Specialist. Specific national certification bodies oversee each APN specialty.
How Much Does Someone with a Nursing Degree Earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses held about 2.95 million jobs in 2016. The median annual salary that typically requires a nursing degree is $68,450.
Overall, employment of nurses is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster average for all occupations. An aging population with chronic health problems, widely available healthcare, and current nurses nearing retirement will add to the demand for nurses.
Experience and area of the country will also influence the salary a nurse receives. Those with a nursing degree working on the East or West coast will typically earn more than someone employed elsewhere in the country.
An Opportunity for Felons?
A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Although 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, there is no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree can find a college that will accept him or her. The challenge is in becoming licensed and obtaining a job after graduating.
For a felon wanting to complete the education required to become a nurse, he or she should contact the State Board of Nursing in his or her particular state to determine each school’s criteria for admission.
While licensing regulations vary from one state to another, most states will consider candidates with a criminal record depending on the seriousness of the crime and the length of time since the offense was committed. Candidates are considered on a case-by-case basis.
It is important to be honest in filling out an application for licensure or for a job. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify any application, which could result in being sent back to prison.
In order to be successful in obtaining a degree in nursing, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a nursing degree and beginning a new career. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
It is challenging, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to get a nursing degree and be successful as a nurse. Giving him or herself the best chance for success by having his or her record expunged and being persistent in pursuing a degree could make a critical difference.
Having support from family or friends will also make a difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a nursing degree with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.