logo

Hawaii Nursing License Requirements

Nurses practicing in the state of Hawaii are overseen by the Hawaii Board of Nursing, a division of the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing. Hawaii recognizes and licenses several different categories of nurses, including licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. Learn more about the education and licensing requirements for these nursing professions in Hawaii by selecting the appropriate class below.

» How to become a licensed practical nurse (requires completion of a training program)
» How to become a registered nurse (requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree)
» How to become a nurse practitioner (requires a master’s degree)

3 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Hawaii

1. Complete a Practical Nursing Program.

Completion of a practical nursing program that is approved by the Hawaii Board of Nursing or accredited by the National League of Nursing is required for practical nurse licensure.1 Programs designed to prepare practical nurses must contain at least 30 semester credits, with at least 40% of credits earned through laboratory or clinical instruction.1 Candidates with the appropriate credentials may be eligible to earn a certificate by examination through a program approved by the Hawaii Board of Nursing in lieu of completing a traditional program.1

2. Apply for a License for Practical Nursing.

After graduating from a practical nursing program, prospective practical nurses may submit the Application for License By Exam – Nurse.2 After submitting the one page application, candidates should request that the nursing program completed forward official transcripts verifying the program completed and graduation to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 If applying prior to graduation but after degree requirements have been met, an official letter from the school verifying program completion may be acceptable but will not substitute for an official graduated transcript for full licensure.2

3. Register For and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

The National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) must be passed in order to earn licensure as a practical nurse in Hawaii. After the application for licensure has been reviewed, eligible candidates will receive registration instructions for the NCLEX-PN from the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 Candidates should visit the website for Pearson VUE, the company that administers the NCLEX-PN exam and reports results to the Hawaii Board of Nursing, to complete exam registration.3 After registration and eligibility are verified, candidates will receive an Authorization to Test that allows them to schedule and take the examination.2 The Hawaii Board of Nursing typically receives results within two weeks of examination; once a passing score is recorded, a license may be issued.2

3 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Hawaii

1. Earn a Degree or Certificate in Registered Nursing.

The Hawaii Board of Nursing requires that to be eligible for registered nurse licensure, candidates must earn a diploma, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree from a state approved or nationally accredited school.1 At a minimum, the degree or diploma earned must consist of at least 64 semester credits, 40 percent of which must be in laboratory or clinical instruction.1

2. Complete the Application for License By Exam.

Once a candidate for registered nurse licensure has graduated from a diploma or degree program in registered nursing, the Application for License By Exam – Nurse may be submitted.2 The one page application should be forwarded to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 Candidates should also request that the school at which the nursing program was completed forward official transcripts demonstrating program completion and graduation to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 If the application is being submitted before the graduation date but after all program requirements have been satisfied, applicants may request that the school verify program completion through an official letter.2 This step will allow the candidate to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) but will not satisfy licensure requirements until an official graduating transcript is received.2

3. Register For and Take the NCLEX-RN.

All registered nurse candidates who have not previously been licensed must satisfactorily pass the NCLEX-RN to receive a license to practice registered nursing.2 After a candidate has submitted an application for licensure and the application has been reviewed by the Hawaii Board of Nursing, the candidate will receive instructions for registering for the NCLEX-RN.2 The candidate must register for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE, the company that administers the NCLEX-RN.3 Once this registration has been completed and the candidate’s eligibility to test confirmed, the Hawaii Board of Nursing will issue an Authorization to Test that can be used to schedule and take the NCLEX-RN.2 The Hawaii Board of Nursing typically receives results within two weeks of examination; once a passing score is recorded, a license may be issued.2

5 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Hawaii

1. Become a Registered Nurse Licensed in Hawaii.

To be considered for licensure as a nurse practitioner, it is first necessary to obtain licensure as a registered nurse in Hawaii.1 Applicants for nurse practitioner licensure must therefore hold an active and unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse prior to applying for nurse practitioner authorization.

2. Complete a Master’s Degree in Nursing.

Prospective nurse practitioners in Hawaii must obtain a master’s degree or higher in nursing that focuses on direct care to patients if national certification is not obtained.4 The program completed must meet national accreditation standards to meet licensure requirements.1 Note, however, that nurse practitioners who intend to pursue prescriptive authority must obtain both a master’s degree and national certification.4

3. Earn Certification As a Nurse Practitioner At The National Level.

National certification by a recognized certifying body is a prerequisite for nurse practitioners in Hawaii if a master’s degree is not obtained or if prescriptive authority is desired.4 The Hawaii Board of Nursing recognizes the following associations as certifying bodies for the purpose of nurse practitioner licensing:1

  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • The Pediatric Nurses Certification Board
  • The National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties
  • The Council on Certification of the American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
  • The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

The Hawaii Board of Nursing may also consider certifications from associations holding accreditation from the American Board of Nursing Specialties and/or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.1 Certifications from these associations are typically contingent on passage of an exam, which should be completed prior to applying for a license as a nurse practitioner.

4. Complete The Application for Advanced Registered Nurse Recognition.

The appropriate form to complete for licensure as a nurse practitioner is the Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Recognition.4 Official transcripts from the master’s degree program completed and/or official verification of national certification must be sent by the appropriate institutions directly to the Hawaii Board of Nursing to support the application.4 Note that nurses who would like to pursue prescriptive authority, which is covered in more detail below, may wish to request two transcripts and two verifications of certification to accelerate the application process.4

5. Request Prescriptive Authority for Nurse Practitioners.

The Hawaii Board of Nursing is currently in the process of adopting new rules for the dispensation of controlled substances.4 As a result, nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses in Hawaii are currently unable to obtain authority to prescribe, procure, or dispense controlled substances.4 Existing rules for non-controlled substances are still in effect and may be used to pursue prescriptive authority for drugs not on the controlled schedules.4

Prescriptive authority for non-controlled substances can be obtained if a nurse practitioner has completed an education of at least thirty contact hours in advanced pharmacology which includes advanced pharmacotherapeutics.5 A separate application, the Application – Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Prescriptive Authority, must be completed to request prescriptive authority.5 Because a separate file is maintained for advanced practice nurses granted authority to prescribe, applicants must also forward the appropriate official transcripts and national certifications even if these have been included on the application for recognition as a nurse practitioner.5

Hawaii Nursing Associations

There are several nursing associations operating in Hawaii that can help current and future nurses build their professional networks, access employment opportunities, and complete continuing education.

American Nurses Association Hawaii

Hawaii Association of Professional Nurses

Hawaii Nurses’ Association

Emergency Nurses Association of Hawaii

Hawaii Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 5,080 $30,040
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 1,270 $45,070
Registered Nurses 10,060 $84,750
Nurse Practitioners 240 $104,690

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

References:
1. Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 16 Chapter 89 – Nurses
2. Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs Professional and Vocational Licensing: Application for License By Exam – Nurse
3. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
4. Hawaii Board of Nursing: Application for Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse Recognition
5. Hawaii Board of Nursing: Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Prescriptive Authority