Date of Award

August 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kim Litwack

Committee Members

Jennifer Doering, Natalie McAndrew, Liliana Mina


admission, background, criminal, nursing, students


Background checks are used in nursing education as a means of assessing public risk. To date, there is little published data describing nursing students who have had prior involvement with law enforcement. This retrospective study describes prevalence and characteristics of background check data in nursing students. De-identified background check data were aggregated from a convenience sample of 16 US nursing programs set in large research universities. From 2014-2019, sampled programs conducted 45,648 background checks and 3.39% had findings. Individual program prevalence ranged from 0.00% to 13.33%. Felonies comprised 1.06%, criminal findings were 78.57%, non-criminal were 5.76%, and 14.61% were other. Substance abuse was the most common characteristic (23.71%), followed by disorderly conduct (8.66%), property crimes (2.39%) and crimes against persons (0.97%). The remainder of findings had incomplete characteristic data. Current evaluation of nursing student background check findings has not been tested through correlational research. These untested policies may exclude students who pose no risk. This may have a disparate impact upon students from underrepresented communities subject to structural racism in law enforcement. Educators should use research to create the least exclusionary policies needed to protect the public.

Available for download on Thursday, August 29, 2024