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Nursing Licensure Information

In order to practice as a nurse in your state, you must obtain and maintain a nursing license from your state. To become licensed you must fulfill the requirements set your state nursing board which include graduation from an accredited nursing degree program and a passing score on the appropriate exam for the type of license you are seeking. You must apply to a board of nursing which will ensure that you have met all the requirements before issuing the license. After you have acquired a license, you are required to apply for renewal every one to two years which may require obtaining a minimum number of continuing education credits or working a minimum number of hours in some states. The initial application and subsequent renewal applications require a fee to be paid. Employers and the general public can verify your nursing license status through the national database at Nursys.com.

Nursing License Requirements by State

LPN or LVN License

To receive an LPN or LVN license in your state requires the completion of an LPN or LVN education program and a passing score on the NCLEX-PN exam. Check your state’s nursing board website for information on approved practical nurse training programs. Practical nurse training programs are offered at many community colleges across the country. An FBI background check and application fees may also be required. Check your state’s board of nursing webpage for the latest updates on requirements for new practical nurses.

Registered Nurse License

To receive a registered nurse license in your state requires completion of an associate of science in nursing or a bachelor of science in nursing and a passing score on the NCLEX-RN exam. Research has shown that graduates who take the NCLEX soon after graduation have a higher pass rate than those who wait several months.1 If the NCLEX is not passed on the first few attempts, you may be required to complete an exam review course. After several unsuccessful attempts to pass the NCLEX you may be required to repeat the entire RN education course. Additional requirements may include a background check and a license application fee. While you are waiting for your NCLEX exam, an Interim Permit may be issued so you can start working immediately after graduation.

Nurse Certification

Nurse certification provides registered nurses with a way to demonstrate their expertise in a specific area of nursing. There are multiple organizations that provide certification including the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation, and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Employers may pay for certification programs as it provides several benefits for the hospital such as improved care and higher job satisfaction.

Examples of nurse certification include:

  • Certified Critical Care Nurse (American Association of Critical Care Nurses)
  • Certified Emergency Nurse (Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing)
  • Gerontological Nursing (American Nurses Credentialing Center)
  • Home Health Nurse Certification (American Nurses Credentialing Center)
  • Informatics Nursing (American Nurses Credentialing Center)
  • Pain Management Nursing (American Nurses Credentialing Center)
  • Pediatric Nursing (American Nurses Credentialing Center)
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing (American Nurses Credentialing Center)

Nursing License Reciprocity

If you have acquired your license in your home state, you may be allowed to practice in one of the 24 states that are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact without having to apply for a new license. When you move to a different state that is part of the compact, you can obtain a multistate license by applying for licensure by endorsement. Visit the NCSBN’s website to see if your state participates in the Nurse Licensure Compact.

References:
1. California Board of Registered Nursing: http://www.rn.ca.gov/