If someone finds themselves in serious trouble with the law, that doesn't necessarily mean they couldn't rehabilitate themselves and become a nurse in Iowa.

Most of the time when someone is convicted of a felony, they receive a large fine, they will face several years in jail or prison, or they receive some combination of both. Few things can destroy someone's life more than a felony conviction.

Felons in Iowa lose their right to vote, they can no longer possess, transport, or receive firearms, and they can no longer hold public office, etc, according to the Official State of Iowa. The governor can restore these rights if they choose to but that can be a lengthy process. Everyone knows that there are certain jobs that you can't get if you're convicted of a felony or you have to wait for a long time before you're eligible to be hired.

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What about becoming a nurse? Can you obtain a nursing license with a felony? Not every state operates the same way but it looks like you could obtain a nursing license in Iowa.

Unsplash - Vladimir Fedotov
Unsplash - Vladimir Fedotov

Nursing License

According to the Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals, and Licensing, criminal history isn't the end-all-be-all for someone who wants to obtain a nurse license in Iowa.

"Criminal histories do not automatically prohibit applicants from getting licensed in Iowa. Even if you have one or more disqualifying convictions, you may still qualify. You will need to submit proof of rehabilitation to the Board. Your documentation needs to prove your ability to safely practice nursing."

It's a pretty straightforward process for those who have a criminal history and want to become a nurse in Iowa. You must first submit a petition for eligibility form and the Board will review the petition to determine your eligibility. You ARE NOT required to submit the petition before applying for a license. Even if you have a criminal history and are close to graduation, it's still worth trying to obtain the license.

Disclosing Convictions

According to Iowa DIAL, there are 3 things someone would have to share when applying.

  • 1 - The Criminal complaint and judgment of conviction for each separate offense
  • 2 - A brief personal statement about the conditions that led to the conviction/s
  • 3 - All evidence of rehabilitation they wish the board to consider

You could also be asked to submit your guilty plea or the sentencing order as well.


While someone with a felony could potentially still obtain a nursing license in Iowa, certain criminal convictions will potentially disqualify someone. According to Iowa Code 272C.15 drug offenses, sexual offenses, forcible, violent, or endangerment offenses, offenses involving dishonesty, and public health offenses can disqualify someone.

There is also a list of "other offenses" that would disqualify someone, which vary from tampering with DNA, money laundering, falsy reporting of incendiary or explosive devices/material, and human reproductive cloning. The "other offenses" is a pretty big list. It should also be noted that just because you legally obtained your nursing license....that doesn't mean a hospital will necessarily hire you if you're convicted of a felony.

The best way to avoid all of the trouble that comes with having a felony on your record is...to not get a felony. They aren't always the end all be all for your life but 1 bad decision can make the rest of your life a lot harder than you want it to be.

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