Can Physicians with a Criminal Conviction Still Practice Medicine?
The quickest answer is “maybe.” It isn’t uncommon for professionals to have small convictions on their record, and it isn’t entirely uncommon for individuals with convictions to enter the medical field. Ultimately, your ability to practice medicine will boil down to whether or not your conviction interferes with your ability to earn or retain your medical license.
How Convictions Can Impact Med School Applications
While some medical professionals worry about losing their license upon being charged with a criminal conviction, others may have a conviction and wonder if they can even obtain their license in the first place. According to U.S. News & World Report, med school applicants should consider the following tips as they apply:
- Check your police records. When in doubt about the state of your criminal convictions, it’s smart to look into your own police records, including even small misdemeanors. This step can provide some peace of mind (even if you do have a criminal background), as it allows you to see exactly what the school would see if they were to run a background check.
- Disclose all relevant information early on in the process. Even if withholding the information leads you to be accepted into the program, that doesn’t mean your criminal background will never be revisited by the school (or by your employer after you graduate). Withholding a criminal conviction in the application process is considered highly dishonest and can lead to rescinding of acceptance and dismissal from the medical school.
- Include mitigating factors in your disclosure. Especially since the severity of a criminal conviction can vary wildly, don’t feel as though you don’t have a chance at being accepted. People make mistakes, and the people reviewing your application know this. If you do have a criminal conviction you need to disclose, take the time to describe the circumstances leading to and surrounding the conviction. Outline circumstances such as family deaths, describe whether or not it was an isolated event, and elaborate on the steps you took to address the problem and improve.
How a Criminal Charge Can Affect You Once You Have Your License
After you’ve worked hard to earn your license, the thought of losing it can be terrifying. You would lose your job, compromise your long-term career, and take a hit to your reputation.
One important thing to remember is that the criminal conviction with which you are being charged doesn’t have to relate to your career. Many physicians don’t realize that even a misdemeanor that’s completely unrelated to their job can lead to the loss of their medical license.
Common crimes that can lead to the loss of your license include:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Insurance and/or health care fraud
- Felony crimes such as assault, rape, and murder
- Financial crimes such as embezzlement, income tax evasion, and extortion
- Patient-related crimes such as neglect or medical malpractice
- Misdemeanors involving dangerous driving
- Perjury, forgery, and/or fraud
As you can see, only a few of these are directly related to the physician’s medical career. While you would hope that criminal charges would be motivation enough to dissuade an individual from committing the above acts, remembering that any one of them could lead to the loss of their license may cause them to think twice.
Improve Your Chances of Keeping Your License
Whether or not you will be permitted to continue practicing will really depend on whether or not you keep your license. Thankfully, being convicted of a crime doesn’t have to mean that you will lose your license. Working with an experienced medical and nursing license attorney will greatly increase your chances of keeping your job in the medical field. Contact Sandage Law today for a consultation with our knowledgeable attorneys.