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West Virginia Nursing License Requirements

In West Virginia, the West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical nurses oversees and licenses practical nurses, while the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses oversees and licenses registered nurses and advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners. All nurses who wish to become licensed in West Virginia must first complete an appropriate education in nursing. Learn more about the requirements for becoming a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in West Virginia by reading 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 West Virginia

1. Graduate from a Program in Licensed Practical Nursing.

Earning a degree or certificate from a program in licensed practical nursing from an accredited school is the first step to becoming a licensed practical nurse in West Virginia. The West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses provides a list of programs in the state that are approved for providing an education leading to licensure.1

2. Submit the Application for Licensure by Examination.

The Application for Licensure by Examination must be submitted to request a practical nursing license in West Virginia.2 The application must be accompanied by a passport style photograph that is signed by the candidate and the director or coordinator of the practical nursing school attended.2 Candidates must also request that the practical nursing school forward to the West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses a complete official transcript showing all courses and earned grades for the program.2 Note that the school should also complete the certification section of the application.2 Candidates who wish to receive a temporary permit pending passage of the National Council Licensure Examination should answer “Yes” to question 17 of the application.2

A national background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation is required for licensure, and is automatically run through the West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses prior to licensure.2 Applicants must therefore be sure to sign and have notarized the “Authorization of Release of Records” section of the application form.2

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

The West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses uses Pearson VUE, a third party testing firm, to administer and score the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).2 Candidates must register for the exam through Pearson VUE.3 Candidates who pass the exam on the first attempt will receive a practical nursing license from the West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses. Candidates who do not pass must complete the Return of Temporary Permit and Retest Application to re-attempt the exam.4

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in West Virginia

1. Graduate from a Program in Professional Nursing.

All registered nurses in West Virginia must have a diploma or degree from a professional nursing program, typically an associate’s or bachelor’s level program.5 A list of programs located within the state that have been approved by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses as adequately preparing and qualifying graduates for licensure is available on the Board website.5

2. Submit the License Exam Application for Registered Nurses.

The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses License Exam Application should be used to apply for initial licensure by examination.6 The form must be accompanied by a passport style photo bearing a true likeness of the applicant, signed on the front by the applicant and the dean or director of the nursing program attended.6 All sections of the form should be completed in their entirety, with the signature section signed by the applicant and notarized.6

Note that the dean or director of the nursing program attended must also complete the certification form found in the application materials, and sign the form under school seal.6 An official transcript should also be sent directly from the school to the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses.6 In addition, the Certification I section of the application should be completed by a responsible adult who has known the candidate for at least five years; it is preferred that the completing party be outside of the candidate’s immediate family.6

Applicants who are qualified for a temporary permit will receive one by mail after review of the application materials.6 Note that temporary permits are only valid for ninety days from the date of graduation from a professional nursing program, regardless of issue date.6

3. Complete State and Federal Background Checks for Licensure.

All registered nurse license applicants must undergo state and federal background checks using a fingerprint based form.6 The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses uses MorphoTrust USA as its preferred identity service and fingerprint processor.6 A fingerprinting session for both background checks should be scheduled by visiting the MorphoTrust USA website.7 Out of state applicants may have fingerprints completed and submitted through local law enforcement.6 Note that it can take from 16 to 18 weeks to complete the federal criminal background check.6

4. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

Passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the final step to earning a registered nursing license in West Virginia. Registration is completed through Pearson VUE, a third party testing service.3 Following registration and application review, candidates will be made eligible to schedule and take the exam.6 Candidates who successfully pass the exam will receive their license. Candidates who do not pass the exam may re-apply to take the exam a second time.6 Note that an applicant who fails the exam twice may be required to present evidence of qualifications or remediation to the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses prior to being permitted to attempt the exam a third time.6

6 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in West Virginia

1. Obtain an Active West Virginia Registered Nurse License.

As West Virginia is not a compact state, prospective nurse practitioners must obtain an active West Virginia registered nurse license prior to becoming eligible for a nurse practitioner’s license.8 Thus, candidates must complete a registered nursing education and pass the NCLEX-RN.

2. Complete a Graduate Degree in Nursing.

Nurse practitioners in West Virginia must complete a graduate program that holds accreditation from an accrediting organization recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.9 Master’s and doctoral degree programs that have been approved by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses are listed on the Board website.5

3. Earn National Certification from a Recognized Organization.

The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses requires applicants for a nurse practitioner’s license to earn national certification on the basis of examination from a recognized organization. A list of recognized examinations and the administering organizations are available on the Board’s website.10

4. Submit the Advanced Practice Initial Application.

The Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse must be submitted for consideration for a nurse practitioner’s license in West Virginia.8 All sections of the form must be completed and the applicant must sign the certification statement.8 Evidence of national certification must be mailed directly to the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses from the certifying organization.8 Similarly, official transcripts from the post-basic nursing program attended must be sent directly from the school to the Board.8

5. Execute a Collaborative Agreement, If Prescriptive Writing Privileges Will Be Pursued.

Nurse practitioners who intend to exercise prescriptive writing privileges must have a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician.11 The collaborative agreement must be in writing and contain protocols for prescriptive authority and practice, as well as the responsibilities of each party to the agreement.11 Updated copies of any collaborative agreements executed must be submitted to and kept on file at the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses at all times.11

6. Apply for Prescriptive Writing Privileges, If Desired.

Qualified applicants who would like prescriptive writing privileges may apply for such by submitting the Application for Prescriptive Writing Privileges to the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses.11 The form must be certified by an adult individual who has known the applicant for at least five years.11 In addition, the nurse practitioner and collaborating physician must complete the Verification of Collaborative Agreement for Prescriptive Writing Privileges form found in the application packet.11 Note that this form must be notarized.11 In addition, candidates must provide official transcripts from his or her baccalaureate degree, even if a master’s degree has been earned; proof of pharmacotherapeutic education in a program approved by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses; and proof of national certification as a nurse practitioner.11 Note that prescription or dispensation of controlled substances requires an additional registration with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).12

West Virginia Nursing Associations

Future and current nurses in West Virginia can benefit from membership in a West Virginia nursing association through employment opportunities, continuing education, and professional networking.

West Virginia Association of School Nurses

West Virginia Emergency Nurses Association

West Virginia Nurses Association

West Virginia Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 7,860 $21,790
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 6,480 $33,660
Registered Nurses 17,440 $54,490
Nurse Practitioners 760 $78,590

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

References:
1. West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses: List of Accredited Schools
2. West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses: General Information and Application for Licensure by Examination
3. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
4. West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses: Return of Temporary Permit and Retest Application
5. West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses: State Approved Nursing Programs
6. West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses: License Exam Application
7. Safran MorphoTrust USA: West Virginia
8. West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
9. West Virginia Legislative Rule Title 19 Series 7: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
10. West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses: Certifying Bodies
11. West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses: Application for Prescriptive Writing Privileges
12. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970