Advice Needed! Becoming a doctor with a criminal history.

Hi all,

I’m not sure if anyone else has ever needed to know this, but I am preparing to begin a full time post-bac program in advance of a med school application and I have some questions about having a criminal background.

13 years ago, while I was in college in New York State, a group of friends and I were arrested for possession of a controlled substance. I was eventually convicted of misdemeanor possession. It was a time of indiscretion and poor judgement during my undergrad, but I completed a probationary period and even completed a rehabilitation program just to make sure that no long term problems would develop. They didn’t. I live an active, successful, professional life. I have a successful career, and I’ve lived completely legally since then (speeding ticket last summer notwithstanding!).

My question now is, before I make such a big change–leave my career, ask my partner to live on 1 salary for the next six years, and so on–do I need to be concerned about this coming back to haunt me in terms of licensing, etc.? I’ve already found folks online who say that as long as I am not disqualified from getting a DEA license, that med schools won’t deny me outright. I’ve checked on the DEA website, and I think I should be fine with a controlled substance license. That restriction is only for felonies related to controlled substances.

What I’m not sure about is if I’d qualify as a medicare/medicaid provider. Does anyone have any experience with that? Is there anything else I should be concerned with that my history might affect?

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!

I’ve heard felonies are the problem not misdemeanors.

If I were you, I would consult a lawyer and see if you can get the charge expunged.

I agree with above. I’d recommend 1) see if expungement is a possibility 2) contact your med schools of interest directly and explain your situation. Good luck to you.

You have to pass a background check during the application cycle but a misdemeanor shouldn’t stop you from 12 yrs ago.

Go to this AAMC .pdf link and read all the info about misdemeanors: 162/data…

You can also call a medical a school admissions office and find out if this would prevent you from matriculating but they should have the same info as in the AAMC instruction manual.

You’ll waste time and money doing the expungement thing.

I don’t think you’ll have much of a problem but ask the medical schools.

NYS offers something called a “Certificate of Relief” which will restore voting rights, remove even felonies from record, and make you “right” for licensure. The information is on the DOCS website. You just basically need to prove no further charges, a work history, and three years of IRS taxes paid.

There is the sticky issue of the “have you ever had a drug charge” question on the FAFSA…

  • VickiV Said:
There is the sticky issue of the "have you ever had a drug charge" question on the FAFSA......

My understanding is that a drug charge precludes a person from receiving ANY federal based financial aid.

Depends…there have been some lawsuits and some adjustments in recent years. Juvenile records are sealed. And again, if you can prove a certificate of relief, it will sometimes make a difference. I have seen people succeed in this area ( having been therapist to many a recovering drug addict). There is some federal “fine print” that allows for appeals.