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Working in Healthcare with a Criminal Conviction

September 12, 2022

By Attorney Bradley Fuller

Pursuing a career in health care is noble, exciting, and potentially quite lucrative.  In the current Covid era, CNAs, personal medical aids, and home health care assistants are in extremely high demand.  However, many people who aspire to serve in these occupations are devastated to learn that certain criminal convictions will prevent them from ever becoming employed in the medical field.  Even relatively minor offenses, such as misdemeanor retail theft, will prevent would-be professionals from obtaining employment under the Health Care Worker Background Check Act. 225 ILCS 46/1. 

Thankfully, the barrier of a disqualifying criminal conviction can be overcome if an applicant is granted a special waiver by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).  Any person with a criminal conviction who wishes to work in the field of healthcare should immediately consult with a skilled and passionate attorney who specializes in applying for these waivers. 

1) Who Needs a Healthcare Waiver?

Any unlicensed professional who has direct access to medical patients will need a waiver if they have a disqualifying conviction in their history.  This means that not only do nurses and other healthcare professionals need waivers, but janitors, drivers, food service staff, and all other employees who come into contact with medical patients need one as well.  However, medical occupations that require a licensing process, such as a physician assistant, are excluded, meaning that a waiver is not required for these particular medical professions.

2) What Crimes Require a Waiver?

The full list of disqualifying offenses can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health website at http://www.idph.state.il.us/nar/disconvictions.htm. You may also consult with a knowledgeable lawyer to determine if you are required to obtain a waiver for your occupation in the medical field.

3)  When Can I Apply?

The minimum wait time for applying depends on both the number and severity of criminal convictions that one has on his or her record. One conviction for a misdemeanor has the smallest wait period of just one year. On the other hand, three or more convictions of a felony offense will mandate a wait period of at least ten years.  A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to determine your soonest date of eligibility. 

4) What Should I Submit to IDPH?

In addition to the standard waiver application form, a good attorney will assist you in obtaining, drafting, and mailing several supporting materials to accompany your application. The attorneys and paralegals at CTM Legal Group are experts in creating top quality mitigation packages, which may include the following:

  • a well written personal statement describing the applicant and the incident
  • character reference letters
  • relevant employment history
  • proof of rehabilitation services
  • academic and professional achievements
  • community involvement and volunteer work

If you dream of pursuing a rewarding and respected career in healthcare but worry that your criminal record will prevent you from obtaining employment, contact CTM Legal Group and get the help you need today.