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Ohio Nursing License Requirements

Prospective practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners in Ohio must demonstrate their credentials to the Ohio Board of Nursing to earn a license to practice in the state. The path to becoming a licensed nurse in Ohio begins with an education in nursing or a nursing specialty, and can continue with continuing education and more advanced levels of licensure. Learn more about becoming a practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in Ohio by selecting one of the options 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)

4 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Ohio

1. Graduate from a Program in Practical Nursing.

Prospective practical nurses in Ohio must complete an education program for practical nurses that is approved by or acceptable to the Ohio Board of Nursing based on education equivalents.1 Programs in Ohio that meet the education requirements set forth by the Ohio Board of Nursing are added to the Board’s list of approved schools; a list of these programs can be accessed on the Ohio Board of Nursing website.2 Statistics for approved programs are also available.3

2. Complete the Ohio Criminal Background Check for Licensing Nurses.

The Ohio Board of Nursing requires prospective nurses to complete a criminal background check before a license to practice nursing can be issued.4 Applications for nurse licensure can not be processed until the background check is completed.4 Candidates for licensure must therefore complete the background check by visiting a WebCheck location in Ohio.4 WebCheck is an electronic fingerprinting process used by the Ohio Attorney General Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and locations can be searched on the Ohio Attorney General website.5 Note that applicants must visit a WebCheck location that supports both Federal Bureau of Investigation and Criminal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint processing, and must request that both of these reports be sent to the Ohio Board of Nursing directly from the reporting source.4

3. Submit the Application for Licensure by Examination to Practice Nursing in Ohio.

Prospective licensed practical nurses who have not previously been licensed to practice nursing in Ohio or another state should complete the Application for Licensure by Examination to Practice Nursing in Ohio.4 To support the application, graduates of nursing schools in Ohio should request that the program administrator forward a program completion letter to the Ohio Board of Nursing.4 Applicants who attended an out of state school must submit the Form B Transcript Authorization to their school registrar or records custodian to request that a transcript be forwarded to the Ohio Board of Nursing.6

A Licensed Practical Nurse Affidavit is included in the application packet. The Affidavit should be completed in the presence of a notary so that the form can be notarized and included with the application materials.4 Be sure to address all application materials submitted to the Ohio Board of Nursing to “Attention: Licensure Unit” to ensure that the application reaches the correct department timely.7

4. Complete Registration for and Attempt the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

To earn a license in Ohio all practical nurses must earn a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).4 Registration for the exam is completed through Pearson VUE, a third party testing company contracted by the Ohio Board of Nursing, on Pearson VUE’s website.8 Once registration with Pearson VUE is complete and the Ohio Board of Nursing has reviewed the initial application, an Authorization to Test that allows the license candidate to attempt the exam will be issued.4 Once a passing score on the exam has been achieved, the candidate will receive a license in practical nursing.

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Ohio

1. Graduate from a Program in Registered Nursing.

Registered nurses in Ohio must complete an education in registered nursing through a diploma or degree program to be eligible for licensure.1 The Ohio Board of Nursing approves programs located in the state of Ohio that meet the education requirements, and may also deem equivalent programs based in other states as equivalent and acceptable for licensure.1 A list of programs that have been approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing is available on the Board website.9 Licensure candidates can also view statistics for approved programs.3

2. Complete the Ohio Criminal Background Check for Licensing Nurses.

All nurse licensure candidates in Ohio must complete a criminal background check in order to become eligible for a nursing license.4 Note that the Ohio Board of Nursing can not process an application for licensure until a criminal history background check has been completed.4 The required background check in Ohio is done through WebCheck, an electronic fingerprinting process endorsed by the Ohio Attorney General Bureau of Criminal Investigation.5 WebCheck locations can be searched on the Ohio Attorney General website.5 Applicants should be sure to visit a WebCheck location that can complete both Federal Bureau of Investigation and Criminal Bureau of Investigation fingerprint processing, and must request that both of these reports be sent to the Ohio Board of Nursing directly from the reporting source.4

3. Submit the Application for Licensure by Examination to Practice Nursing in Ohio.

Registered nurses who have not previously held a license to practice registered nursing in Ohio or another state must complete the Application for Licensure by Examination to Practice Nursing in Ohio to apply for a license.4 Those who have graduated from a nursing school based in Ohio should request that the program administrator forward a program completion letter to the Ohio Board of Nursing to support the application.4 Licensure candidates whose nursing school is located out of state should forward the Form B Transcript Authorization to their school registrar or records custodian to request that a transcript be forwarded to the Ohio Board of Nursing.6

4. Complete Registration for and Attempt the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

All registered nurses in Ohio must achieve a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to be eligible for licensure.4 Applicants must register for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE, a third party testing company used by the Ohio Board of Nursing.8 After the Ohio Board of Nursing has reviewed the application for licensure and the registration with Pearson VUE is complete, an Authorization to Test will be issued.4 This Authorization to Test permits the candidate to schedule and attempt the NCLEX-RN.4 Applicants who achieve a passing score on the NCLEX-RN will be issued a registered nurse license.

6 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Ohio

1. Become Licensed as an Ohio Registered Nurse.

Prospective advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners, must first be licensed as a registered nurse in Ohio to be eligible for advanced licensure.10 Those planning on becoming nurse practitioners in Ohio should therefore meet the qualifications for and apply for registered nurse licensure, which requires a passing score on the NCLEX-RN.

2. Earn a Graduate Degree in Nursing.

Nurse practitioners must hold a graduate degree in a nursing specialty or closely related field to be eligible for licensure in Ohio.10 Such a degree may be a master’s or post-master’s degree but in either case, the qualifying degree earned must include a major in nursing.11

3. Earn National Certification as a Nurse Practitioner.

Certification by a recognized association at the national level is required for nurse practitioner licensure.10 Note that a prospective nurse practitioner may submit an application for licensure prior to earning certification, but a license will not be granted until certification is issued and confirmed.10 Certification must be issued on the basis of examination.11 A list of approved certifying organizations is available through the Ohio Board of Nursing.12

4. Submit the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application for Certificate of Authority.

Those desiring to practice as a nurse practitioner in Ohio must submit the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application for Certificate of Authority to receive a license.10 Note that all applications and supporting materials should be clearly marked “Attention: Advanced Practice Unit” to ensure timely delivery and processing.7 Applicants should be sure to complete the Certificate of Authority Applicant Affidavit and have this form notarized to include with the application.10 Note that Form A Verification of APRN Education, included in the application materials, must be completed by the graduate school of nursing attended and forwarded directly to the Ohio Board of Nursing.10 Candidates who have completed a post-master’s degree in addition to a master’s degree must have both credentials verified by the granting program(s) using Form A.10

5. Enter into a Standard Care/Collaborative Agreement with a Licensed Ohio Physician.

Nurse practitioners in Ohio must practice under a collaborative agreement that includes a standard care arrangement with a licensed Ohio physician.10 The standard care arrangement must be in writing and address processes for referral, consultation, review, and other necessary standard procedures.11 Although nurse practitioners are not required to forward copies of the agreement to the Ohio Board of Nursing, a nurse practitioner must forward the Board the name(s) and address(es) of any collaborating physicians within thirty days of beginning, terminating, or changing a collaborative relationship.11

6. Apply for a Certificate to Prescribe Externship or Authority (Optional).

Nurse practitioners who wish to hold prescriptive authority in Ohio must complete 45 instruction contact hours in advanced pharmacology as well as a 1,500 hour externship in prescribing experience.13 The externship is typically completed within one year, but may be extended by application to the Ohio Board of Nursing.13 To complete the required externship nurse practitioners must have externship authority granted by the Ohio Board of Nursing.13

It is important to be aware that the externship can not be begun, nor can hours be earned in prescriptive practice, until and unless the nurse practitioner is prescribing under a collaborative agreement and with a Certificate to Prescribe Externship Authority granted by the Ohio Board of Nursing.13 If desired, applicants may submit the application for an externship in prescription or for prescriptive authority at the same time as the initial nurse practitioner application.10 However, permission for the externship or authority for prescribing will not be issued until after a nurse practitioner’s license has been issued.10

Note that to prescribe controlled substances, under externship or otherwise, the practitioner must have a control number with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).13 Once externship authority has been granted by the Ohio Board of Nursing, nurse practitioners may apply for this control number through the DEA.14

Once the 1,500 hours of prescriptive experience have been earned, nurse practitioners may submit Form B Verification of Completion of 1,500 Externship Hours to the Ohio Board of Nursing to obtain prescriptive authority.13

Ohio Nursing Associations

There are numerous nursing associations with a focus on Ohio that can help current and future nurses practicing in the state find opportunities for professional advancement, continuing education, and networking.

Ohio Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 69,300 $24,210
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 40,400 $40,460
Registered Nurses 120,460 $60,970
Nurse Practitioners 3,890 $87,990

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

References:
1. Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 4723
2. Ohio Board of Nursing: Practical Nursing Education Programs
3. Ohio Board of Nursing: Education Programs for Nursing
4. Ohio Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure by Examination to Practice Nursing in Ohio
5. Ohio Attorney General Bureau of Criminal Investigation: WebCheck Locations
6. Ohio Board of Nursing: Form B Transcript Authorization
7. Ohio Board of Nursing: Forms Page
8. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
9. Ohio Board of Nursing: Registered Nursing Education Programs
10. Ohio Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application for Certificate of Authority
11. Ohio Laws and Rules: Ohio Revised Code Title 47, XLVII Chapter 4723
12. Ohio Board of Nursing: 2013 Board Approved National Certifying Organizations
13. Ohio Board of Nursing: Certificate to Prescribe Externship Application
14. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970