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Good evening everyone, I have a major concern applying to PA School regarding my criminal record, with the last offense 08/2009 of DUI. This is one among others- all misdemeanors. My record does no justice to the person I really am or the person I have potential to become. I have made immature and adolescent mistakes that I am not proud of. I have been in medicine since the age of 17 first as a Hospital Corpsman and currently as a MA at 28. I am very passionate about medicine and truly want to advance in the field. Having been free from alcohol (the root of my record) for over a year and the birth of my beautiful baby girl my entire attitude and outlook on life has changed completely. I have never had greater demand or desire to provide more substantially for my family and I. Plus I am finally eligible and have applied to my first PA School. Any advice, suggestions, knowledge of, or personal experience in a similar situation is most welcomed and will be greatly appreciated. Thanks to all who have read thru and God bless.

Edited by JSadley
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Contact the state medical board and see what their rules are on providers with DUIs. There are plenty of providers who have them, you just need to find out what sort of time line do they track, what sort of diversion do they require. I would also contact your state PA association and ask them as well ( I would probably do this first, before the medical board) I have no doubt that the members of the association will know what hoops to jump through. The rules are different for each state, hence the difficulty in giving you a straight answer. Also, be aware that you may have to deal with multiple states...the state that your school is in AND the state you hope to practice in (if they are not the same).

 

As a practitioner, you will be seeking a DEA number to prescribe narcs. The people in charge of that plan need reassurance from a larger organization than just you to be sure that you won't relapse...and that you're being monitored to prevent relapse.

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Another thought (and this is in general, because I don't know you or your specific situation) is that it would be much easier for a medical board, ad comm, DEA, etc to look at an applicant/provider with a legal/substance abuse history that is in the distant past (5+ years) and grant them admission/licensure. This is not to say that a year of sobriety is not a major accomplishment, it just does not speak (yet) to the kind of long-term positive choices that a medical provider must make.

 

If you apply and are rejected (and I hope you aren't) make sure you ask each school if they would have considered your application in a different light if the legal history was one or two (or more) years further in the past...then reapply. Some schools might tell you that a criminal record is a criminal record...don't bother with these places. Either way, keep working in medicine and don't give up.

 

Another thing to be prepared for (again in general, I don't know you or your situation) is that PA school is an incredibly stressful experience. If you have a history of any sort of substance abuse or mental illness or self destructive behavior, make sure you have a good support system in place so that neither your health nor your academics suffer.

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Thank you for your insight. My abuse was more by way of weekend partying and binging. Having grown up in circumstances where this was "normal", it took several encounters with law enforcement before I took a serious look at the error of living that way. And how fortunate I am that this all occurred before my daughter's birth. I tend to do well in high stress situations and look forward to the hard work required during PA school. I just hope it is sooner rather than later. Thank you again for your response.

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My roommate during my didactic year was arrested, jailed for DUI in the second month of PA school. The state support network for addicted providers took him under their collective wing, he went to a 90 day inpatient care facility, jumped through all the legal hoops, and was back in school the following year. So yes, it has been done.

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Thanks. Mistakes are made, and in my case made again, until we learn our lesson and take necessary steps to prevent future occurrences. I hope to hear similar stories and gain a broader perspective based on differences and similarities in the various stories. Thanks to all who have posted and emailed thus far, I do appreciate it.

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My personal situation sounds similar to yours. I'll share my experience and maybe you'll be able to glean something from it. I did get accepted to a program for 2013, so I think you might find it relevant.

I also have a DUI (January 2010), although it was looked at more favorably by the Adcom because I fell asleep (drunk) in my car in the parking lot of the bar (with engine on for the heat, stupid mistake). Woke up to a cop knocking on my window. In Florida you get a DUI for that.

Also, in September of 2008, I had a sport bike and decided it would be a good idea to run from a highway officer in order to avoid a ticket. Got caught when presented with the choice of running high-speed for a 15-mile stretch and probably killing myself (or someone else) or stop. Long story short, got VERY LUCKY and had the 2nd deg felony reduced to 1st deg misdemeanor reckless driving conviction.

Reported all of this in the criminal disclosure section of CASPA. Despite having pretty competitive stats (3.96 science gpa, 760m/690v GRE), good letters, and prior experience as an EMT, I got rejected from a certain Florida program with no interview.

Another program did offer me one. Got hammered on those two incidents during all my one-on-one interviews. Made me really nervous, until I realized two things: They wouldn't have interviewed me unless they saw potential, and the fact that they focused on my criminal past must mean that everything else looked great. They just wanted to know that I've learned from my mistakes and that I don't have a habit of bad behavior. I made a good first impression, and told them of my remorse for the motorcycle incident. Said how getting arrested was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and how it really made me get my head on straight.

As for the DUI, just chalked it up to being careless and not keeping in mind the nuances of Florida law. I was lucky enough to have one interviewer be a former officer who personally hated that particular DUI rule.

I was also thankful that all the interviewers that mattered were male, and could at least somewhat relate to being a young stupid 21-year-old. One even made a point to tell me, at the end of our talk, to not worry anymore about the criminal stuff and to leave it in the past where it belongs.

 

I did have one woman interviewer (who was less involved in student selection) who very much disliked my criminal record, and when I asked how I could have made my application better, she gave me two pieces of advice I'd wished I'd heard earlier:

1. Explain in your narrative how you've changed since your criminal incidents (I never mentioned them).

2. Consider involving yourself in a community outreach program that seeks to prevent the type of crime you were involved in. Many people consider that as the final sign of rehabilitation, and it serves to show that you realize exactly how damaging your behavior was.

 

Anyway, I got in to the program (whew). Good luck to you! message me if you have any other questions, happy to help.

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Call your state's bar association and ask for a lawyer who specialized in expungement/sealing of criminal records. It all depends on your state and the relevant laws but most of the time expungement/sealing allows for you to legally check "no" on a disclosure of criminal history.

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^ yeah, definitely this, if at all possible. Then you can get your arrest photos taken down off those websites too. It's the most frustrating thing to have the first 2 hits for your name on google be mugshots lol.

 

However, I know in Florida you can only seal records if its a single offense and adjudication was withheld. Don't know about the OP's state, but if it's like Florida then sounds like the multiple offenses puts you out of luck.

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