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Which States Allow Felons To Practice Medicine?

When you’re interested in pursuing a medical career with a felony, knowing which states allow felons to practice medicine will help you choose where to apply to medical school and where to plan your residency.

State medical boards oversee the issuing and revocation of medical licenses. Having a felony can make it difficult, or impossible in some cases, to obtain a license to practice medicine.

Which States Allow Felons To Practice Medicine in 2024?

Which States Allow Felons To Practice Medicine

State licensing rules are complicated. In some states, a conviction for any felony means you won’t be able to obtain a license to practice medicine. In these states, physicians will also have their licenses revoked if they’re convicted of a felony.

In many other states, though, the medical board will consider a felony conviction on a case-by-case basis.

As part of your medical license application, you must disclose your felony, and you’ll have to go through a thorough fingerprint-based background check which will reveal your criminal background.

The licensing board will look at factors, including:

  • The nature and severity of the felony.
  • Applicant’s age and maturity at the time the felony took place.
  • Applicant’s rehabilitation.
  • Current moral fitness.
  • Conduct since the felony.
  • How much time has passed since the felony?

In those states which consider felonies on a case-by-case basis, one type of felony may be overlooked, while another type of offense will result in a medical license being denied. Often, any crimes involving moral turpitude will be very difficult for a licensing board to overlook.

Moral turpitude isn’t a specific offense, rather, it describes an offense as one that is morally reprehensible, shocking, vile, reckless, or depraved.

Without going through the licensing process, there’s no way to know if the board will look favorably at your application. However, there are some ways to get an idea of how a medical board is likely to respond to your application to practice medicine with a felony.

Check State Medical Board Statutes

Each state medical board publishes its statutes, and these statutes are the first place to look to find out where you may be able to practice medicine with your felony.

You’ll find the statutes on the state medical board’s website. Look for the section that covers disqualifying criminal offenses.

Read the section carefully. The rules may permanently disqualify applicants with any felony, require a minimum period to have elapsed since the felony occurred, or distinguish between disqualifying felonies and felonies which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Checking the statutes will involve some legwork since you’ll need to look through the rules for 50 different states to see how each one will deal with your particular felony offense.

Make a shortlist of which states allow felons to practice medicine with your offense. Next, you need to get an informed opinion on your chances of successfully obtaining a license to practice medicine in each state.

Just because a state medical board will consider certain offenses doesn’t mean they will approve you once they’ve evaluated all the factors surrounding the offense.

Contact Medical School Admissions Offices

The first step in obtaining a license to practice medicine in any state is completing medical school.

Medical schools run background checks on applicants as part of the admission process. If your felony offense would disqualify you from obtaining a medical license, they’re unlikely to accept you into their program.

You shouldn’t need to submit a full application to find out if you can get into medical school with your background, though.

Use the contact form on the medical school’s admissions website and make a general inquiry about getting into the school with your felony.

When you receive a positive response, keep those states on your shortlist.

Ask The Medical Board For A Pre-License Evaluation

A pre-license evaluation looks at your criminal background. These evaluations are available to individuals with a criminal background who are considering investing in education or training for a medical career that requires a license.

After running a background check and considering your felony against the medical board’s licensing criteria, the evaluation will determine if your felony will result in disqualification.

You’ll receive a letter notifying you of the outcome of the evaluation, but even in cases where your felony may be approved, the evaluation doesn’t provide any guarantee that you will receive a license to practice medicine if you were to apply for one.

A pre-licensing evaluation is a good indicator of your chances, though.

In some states, you’ll have to pay a fee for the evaluation, and you may need to wait up to 90 days before you hear from the board.

Given the total costs associated with medical school and residency training, not to mention the time commitment, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney to get a better understanding of your chances of being approved to practice medicine in a state.

Contacting A Medical Licensing Attorney for Advice

Attorneys who specialize in medical licensing cases work with medical professionals who are at risk of losing their license to practice medicine because of a criminal offense or professional misconduct.

Due to their extensive experience of representing physicians at board hearings, they know which felony offenses will result in a license denial or revocation, and which offenses the board may consider with a more favorable attitude.

When you contact an attorney, you’ll get an honest and qualified opinion on the likelihood that you can practice medicine in that state given your felony and the aggravating or mitigating circumstances connected with the offense.

An attorney may be willing to give you a no-cost, initial consultation, but even if you need to pay for a half hour of their advice, it’s better to spend a relatively small sum on legal advice than go through medical school only to have the board reject your application for a license to practice medicine.

Which State Medical Boards Will Consider Criminal Backgrounds?

Which State Medical Boards Will Consider Criminal Backgrounds?

This list is only a starting point for your investigation. In these states, medical licensing boards cannot issue blanket bans for all types of felony convictions.

However, they can deny medical licenses for felonies that directly impact the profession, and that list of felonies can be extensive.

Felonies involving violence or sexual assault will generally be disqualifying. The medical board statutes for each state will provide greater detail on disqualifying offenses, disqualification periods, and whether proof of rehabilitation is required as part of the license application.

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Washington DC
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Wrapping Up

Finding out which states allow felons to practice medicine with a specific offense isn’t an easy task. While many states won’t automatically refuse a medical license on the grounds of a felony conviction, they can specify a long list of felony offenses and misdemeanor offenses that will result in disqualification.

You’ll need to make a shortlist by checking state medical board statutes and obtaining information from medical schools. Then you can ask for a pre-licensing evaluation to find out if you’re likely to be approved for a medical license when you apply.

As a final step, contact an attorney who specializes in medical licensing to get a qualified opinion.

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