Ex-offenders take on hard-to-fill healthcare jobs

Filling out job application
Some providers are hiring ex-offenders to take on hard-to-fill healthcare jobs, but others are concerned about the risks. (Getty/AndreyPopov)

With a dearth of workers willing to take hard-to-fill jobs in healthcare, some organizations are hiring people with criminal backgrounds to fill those roles.

Johns Hopkins, for instance, doesn’t run background checks on potential hires until a conditional job offer has been made, according to an article from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline. If there are issues on the background check, a member of the human resources department who used to work as a police officer in Baltimore will review it. 

“There’s lots of people that have backgrounds,” said Michele Sedney, the system’s senior director for recruitment. “And if we’re going to exclude all of them—then how are we ever going to staff the hospital?”

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In her four years with Johns Hopkins, there have been no incidents of drug diversion, theft or other crimes related to a staff member with a prior record, she said. Research has shown that ex-offenders will stay in their jobs longer and are not more likely to be fired than other employees.

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Concerns about blowback have pushed some states in the opposite direction, though, according to the article. A Colorado bill requires healthcare professionals to take fingerprint-based background checks, and a law in Indiana expanded background checks for people applying for home health jobs. Providers may be wary of opening themselves up to negligent hiring suits, too.

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Hospitals alone account for one in nine jobs in the U.S., and an aging population is expected to drive continued job growth in that sector.