For many people, getting into medical school allows them to achieve their dreams and start their journey on the road to becoming a doctor of medicine. The application process is usually a rigorous and difficult series of tests and interviews to see if they can find the very best people that they can to enter into the medical trade.
However, starting medical school can be difficult if you have a criminal record. If you have a felony on your record, it might even seem impossible. But it isn’t – it is possible to get into medical school if you have a criminal record, even though it is going to be very difficult for a reformed criminal. Much of it depends on how you have reformed – can you show the school that you are applying to that you are a reformed individual who has given back to society and paid their debt?
Have you achieved employment and further education since leaving prison? Can you be trusted to help the most vulnerable members of our society?
What is a felony?
If you have committed some of the most serious crimes that America recognizes, then you will probably have a felony charge on your record. These charges remove a number of your rights, including the loss of the right to bear arms and possibly the right to vote in twenty-eight states (depending on circumstances). These crimes may cause serious difficulties later on for those that wish to attend medical school.
Can a felony stop me from getting into medical school?
Due to the fact that felonies can be very different and have very different criminal charges, the answer to this one depends. A number of factors are considered by the medical school that will depend on state laws, the severity of the crime, the time that has passed since the felony charge was handed to the applicant, and the success of any reform that the applicant has undergone.
Many felons find that their charges do hold them back and restrict opportunities when they are back out in society. Seeking legal advice to find out precisely how successful your chances to enroll in medical school will be can be an excellent decision if you believe that your felony charge was for a very serious crime but are not sure if it will bar you from entering the trade.
What crimes can automatically disqualify you?
Crimes that are related to violence and crimes that are related to sexual abuse are most likely to bar you from entering medical school. If you have committed murder or be found guilty of rape, it is highly unlikely that you will be accepted for medical school.
Murder and crimes that are similar to it, such as serious assault, show a lack of respect for human life and / or an inability to control emotions. As a medical professional, your job is to help people and nurse them back to health. If you do not appear to have basic respect for human life then you may struggle to find any medical school that will accept you as you a) fail to uphold this basic principle of medical practice and b) you are unlikely to be granted a medical license afterward.
Rape and especially crimes concerning child abuse will bar you from entering the medical profession. As you will be expected to work with people in vulnerable situations, a doctor must be able to be trusted to treat a human being with respect and dignity in situations that may make them uncomfortable. As you have not shown a level of respect for the individual who suffered rape or another form of sexual abuse at your hands, you cannot be trusted to work with individuals in compromising situations.
A story of success
Even though some crimes may close the door to medical school for you, it is not impossible to become a medical doctor while you have a felony charge on your record. Dr. Stanley Andrisse is a professor to medical students at Howard and Johns Hopkins Universities despite coming from a disadvantaged background and committing multiple felony charges.
Having committed multiple felony crimes for drug trafficking in his youth, Dr. Andrisse changed his life and turned it around to become a medical doctor. Although he is a rare case, it is certainly possible for an individual to make the necessary changes in their life if they can show reformation and have excellent results which help them stand out.
Medical Schools That Accept Felons
So is it basically impossible to go to medical school with a felony charge?
Although it is very difficult, it is not impossible. You can get into medical school with a felony charge, but you may find certain difficulties. Medical schools will consider the following:
a) Have you reformed since leaving prison?
b) How much time has passed since the crime was committed?
c) How likely are you to be granted a medical license on completion of the degree?
You can control a) and b) – if you can show that you have held down steady employment and made good decisions in the time since you have left prison (which could include gaining a Bachelor’s degree which helps you go onto become a medical doctor) then you will increase your chances. You will need outstanding scores, however, as you will need to give them a reason to consider you over another potential student who may not have a criminal record.
You can also control and distance yourself from your crime by keeping a clean record after leaving prison. Ideally, you will want at least 5 years to pass before applying to medical school as you can begin to apply for pardons, sealings, and expungements at this time. These measures will also help you in legally hiding the criminal charges that are placed upon you.
C) depends on the state that you live in – if you live somewhere where there are harsh punishments placed on felons, it may be unlikely that you will be granted a medical license even if you have successfully completed your medical training. Moving to a different state may be a good course of action if you can, but the same risks still apply.
If you have a felony charge against your name, you will face an uphill battle in fulfilling your dream and becoming a doctor. However, there are stories of felons attending medical school. These doctors had exceptional grades and had reformed their lives to show that they could be trusted to work with others. If you can do the same with enough hard work, there is no reason that you cannot become a medical professional as well.
Can you get into medical school with a criminal record?
Going to medical school with a crime that is lesser than a felony is, however, much easier. That is not to say that it is the exact same as having a clean criminal record, but there are many stories of individuals who have gone to medical school after a night of indiscretion that lead them to blemish their otherwise perfect criminal record.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) states that they believe a criminal record does play a factor in deciding how eligible someone is for attending a medical school and, ultimately, gaining a medical practitioner’s license. However, this does not mean that they believe that those with a criminal record should be automatically barred from studying medicine and they instead leave the decision of whether an applicant should be accepted up to the medical schools themselves.
How can I improve my chances of being accepted even though I have a criminal record?
Having a criminal record is not the end of the world, but you should think about these key factors for enrolling in a medical school.
- The nature of your crime
If you committed a number of minor crimes (for example, parking violations or speeding tickets), it is unlikely that this will affect your application for entering medical school at all. You will likely be treated like any other non-criminal applicant who is wishing to find the education that semester.
If you have committed a misdemeanor offence, you should make sure that you declare this in the application process – failure to do so will not help your case that you have reformed your behavior since you committed the criminal offense.
- The time since the crime was committed
If a long time has passed since the crime was committed, you are more likely to be viewed as being a reformed individual. If enough time has passed, you may also look into getting the crime expunged from your record and this will mean that you no longer have to declare that you even committed the crime in the future!
- Disclosure of the crime
Medical schools want people who have an excellent moral character as well as excellent academic credentials. If you show that you have reformed since the crime was committed and that you can be honest and own your mistake, then you will increase your chances over someone who has tried to hide their criminal past. Do not lie before your background check – it will only lead to you being disqualified from the process.
- Any mitigating factors surrounding your criminal charge
Although it does not look good to have a crime on your record, you can explain the situation which led to you committing the crime if you have a good reason to do so. Remember, you should still own that you did commit the crime, but certain factors like being forced to do so or a homelife which made it difficult not to commit the crime can aid your case if they are genuine reasons.
If you can show these factors truthfully and successfully in your application process, then it is likely that you may be considered for a position in the medical school.
How can I improve my chances of getting into medical school?
If you have the means and are eligible to get one, a pardon, sealing, or expungement can be an excellent plan for those who want to remove their criminal past from their record. In the case of a felony charge, these are difficult to acquire. That is not to say that they are impossible, however.
If you are trying to remove a misdemeanor charge from your record, look into gaining legal aid and advice from a local representative. With the expert help of a legal representative, you can look into having the crime removed from your record completely with an expungement or have a state governor “pardon” your crime and say that you have paid your debt to society. These will greatly aid in showing that you are a reformed individual.
Where can I apply to medical school with a criminal record?
Due to the AAMC stating that each individual medical school can decide as they wish for the eligibility of criminals applying to their schools means that there is no definitive list or even a list that indicates the likelihood of specific colleges accepting criminals. It all depends on the situation around the crime and the changes that you have made in your life since the misdemeanors or felonies.
Instead of looking for colleges that will accept felons or those with criminal records, you should focus on yourself and improving your chances of showing yourself as an individual who has reformed. This involves showing the virtues of honesty, integrity, and determination to succeed in a challenging environment. Be honest in your application, do not be deterred by knockbacks, and show that you can find gainful employment and possibly further education successfully. These factors will show you to be a fantastic application to a medical school that has all the qualities to succeed.
Applying to medical school is difficult, even for those without criminal records. Maintaining high test scores while showing that you are an all round successful and capable individual can be hard. With the correct plan and the correct approach, however, you can find a position that will lead you to the dream of becoming a doctor.
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.