Is pa school with a criminal record possible? A fair question. The reality is, students are people. People who come from all walks of life, much like our patients. Some aren't the "average" student, some have a story and a not so ideal past, making this question a genuine concern. Below are some real answers and practical tips to help navigate the road ahead if you are serious about pa school.
Is it possible to get into pa school with a criminal record?
I know finding resources on this can be EXTREMELY difficult due to the stigma associated with having a criminal history. Let me start off by saying everyone has a past, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You made your mistake, paid for it, now you are taking ownership of it and moving forward. Good for you 👏🏾. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Now here are some tips/suggestions to help you out: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
1️⃣ Be prepared to talk about it during the interview. Be honest and keep things on a need to know basis You aren’t on a witness stand, they don’t need a play by play of everything that happened; just that it happened. You aren’t proud of it but take ownership of your wrongs by accepting responsibility for your part in it, what you learned from the experience, and be able to explain as well as demonstrate why they should believe all of that is behind you. For example: being convicted of a misdemeanor 5 years ago. Since that time completing a degree, maintaining employment, having the full support of community, another professionals/employers/coworkers/law enforcement or some credible entity that can vouch for you, etc.
2️⃣ There could potentially be a problem finding placement on rotations so be prepared to sign paperwork, if accepted, that releases the program of all liability/responsibility if your criminal history prevents you from being placed at a clinical site.
3️⃣ Check eligibility for record sealing/expunging. If eligible, then proceed with the process. Don’t submit CASPA until the process is complete.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
4️⃣ How long ago was it? If it’s recent (within the last 3 years) I would probably hold off on applying a couple more years. You want to be able to show that this was an isolated event. The best way to show rehabilitation is with time and what you have been doing with that time. How have you demonstrated that you are no longer in that space? Everything you have done since the incident/arrest/conviction speaks to who you are today; a model citizen and productive member of society. Much less believable without a minimum of 3yrs between the activity and your application. The decision is totally up to you though!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
5️⃣ Check your state licensing board to see if your offense will prevent you from being able to obtain a state license. Also check NCCPA’s guidelines. It would really suck to complete pa school then find out that you can’t sit for the certification exam or get a license to practice in your home state 😕 (This actually should have been number 1 but I was too lazy to go bk and re-number everything 🙃)
One more thing
Insights on pa school with a criminal record from a credible insider resource & pa professor
Do not lie or hide things that can turn up later. A mistake in the past is one thing but a breach of integrity during the admissions process will be a deal breaker. Also regarding number 5, keep in mind there are 51 licensing bodies out there with different rules and not every state requires NCCPA certification to practice, so you might have more options than you think.
So to answer the question, is pa school possible with a criminal record?
Yes! The answer is yes. There are students who got into pa school with a history of arrests and even a conviction or two. They graduated and are now successfully employed as a PA-C. Your past doesn’t have to be a life sentence. But keep in mind that this will require planning and strategy. Be clear, BE HONEST and be intentional. Leave a comment sharing your experience or any helpful info.