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Delaware Nursing License Requirements

The requirements for nurse licensure in Delaware vary by the level of practice that a nurse intends to pursue. However, all prospective nurses in Delaware must begin with an education in nursing designed to prepare students for effective and safe practice. The Delaware State Board of Nursing oversees nurse licensure and approved education programs to ensure that these goals are met. Learn more about becoming a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or advanced practice nurse in Delaware 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 an advanced practice nurse (requires a master’s degree)

7 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Delaware

1. Take a Practical Nurse Training Program.

A program specifically designed to train practical nurses must be completed in order to qualify for practical nurse licensure in Delaware.1 Programs for “professional nursing” are not deemed equivalent and graduates of non-equivalent programs will be denied permission to take the required examinations for licensure.1 The Delaware Board of Nursing provides a list of approved nursing education programs on its website.2

2. Complete the Authorization for Release of Information Form.

The Authorization for Release of Information form allows the Delaware Board of Nursing to complete the required criminal background check for applicants.3 This authorization is included in the application packet for licensed practical nurses. The form should be completed and brought by the applicant in person to one of three state-approved facilities for requesting a criminal background check, which are listed on the licensure application.3 Background check fees are due to the facility at which the background check is requested at the time of visit.3

3. Request a Temporary Permit, if Necessary.

Prospective practical nurses may apply to the Delaware Board of Nursing for a temporary permit to practice practical nursing prior to applying for a full license if the practical nurse has completed a training program and received an employment offer.1 The temporary permit is only valid for practice under supervision at the employing facility for either 90 days following graduation from a nursing program or until an attempt is made at the National Council Licensure Examination.1 The temporary permit can be requested by completing the Application for Licensure as a Registered or Practical Nurse by Examination form.3

4. Register to Take the National Council Licensure Examination.

As soon as candidates are prepared to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) and apply for nurse licensure, registration for the NCLEX-PN should be completed.3 Although candidates cannot take the NCLEX-PN without the approval of the Delaware Board of Nursing, the Delaware Board of Nursing is unable to approve eligibility for the NCLEX-PN until after the candidate has completed preliminary registration for the exam.3 Registration should be done through the website of Pearson VUE, the company which administers the NCLEX-PN.4

5. Complete the Application for Practical Nurse Licensure.

The Delaware Board of Nursing provides the Application for Licensure as a Registered or Practical Nurse by Examination form for practical nurse candidates.3 This form must be completed and forwarded to the Delaware Board of Nursing along with a legible photocopy of the candidate’s identification, such as a driver’s license.3 The candidate must also submit the required licensing fees and request official transcripts to be forwarded from the nursing program completed to the Delaware Board of Nursing.3 Note that students who graduated a nursing program more than one year prior to applying for licensure must also complete the Petition for Permission to Take the NCLEX More Than One Year After Graduation form.5

6. Obtain a Reference from the Nursing School Attended.

A Nursing Reference form is included in the application for practical nurse licensure for license candidates to obtain a reference from the school at which the practical nurse training program was completed.3 Applicants should complete the applicant information and authorization to release information page of this form and send the form to the school of nursing for completion of the reference section.3 The school of nursing must forward the reference directly to the Delaware Board of Nursing, and not return it to the applicant.3 Completed forms forwarded by the applicant and not the reference will not be accepted.3

7. Take the NCLEX-PN.

Once the Delaware Board of Nursing has received and reviewed all required application materials for practical nurse licensure, an Authorization to Text for the NCLEX-PN may be issued.3 Upon receiving the authorization the candidate should schedule the NCLEX-PN with Pearson VUE.3 Candidates who pass the NCLEX-PN will be issued a license in practical nursing by regular mail. Candidates who do not pass may re-take the examination upon paying the appropriate fees and completing the Petition for Permission to Take the NCLEX More Than One Year After Graduation form once every 45 days up to eight times in the first calendar year.5

7 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Delaware

1. Earn a Degree in Registered Nursing.

Prospective registered nurses must complete a program specifically designed to train registered nurses which grants a degree to graduating registered nurses to qualify for a registered nursing license in Delaware.1 Programs for “professional nursing” are not considered acceptable; those who complete non-equivalent programs will not be permitted to take the required examinations for licensure.1 The Delaware Board of Nursing provides a list of approved nursing education programs on its website.2

2. Complete the Authorization for Release of Information Form.

As criminal background checks are required preliminary to nursing licensure at all levels in Delaware, candidates must complete the Authorization for Release of Information form.3 This authorization is included in the application packet for registered nurses. The applicant must complete the form and bring it in person to one of three state-approved facilities for requesting a criminal background check.3 A list of facilities and locations are listed in the licensure application.3 Background check fees are due to the facility at which the background check is requested at the time of visit.3

3. Request a Temporary Permit, if Necessary.

Prospective registered nurses who have received an offer of employment as a registered nurse may request a temporary permit to practice from the Delaware Board of Nursing.1 The temporary permit may only be issued if all licensing requirements except for passage of the NCLEX have been met.1 Issued temporary permits are valid for 90 days following graduation from a registered nursing program or until an unsuccessful attempt at the NCLEX has been recorded. The temporary permit can be requested by completing the Application for Licensure As a Registered or Practical Nurse by Examination form.3

4. Register to Take the National Council Licensure Examination.

The Delaware Board of Nursing requires that applicants for registered nurse licensing complete a preliminary registration for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) as soon as applicants are ready to apply for licensure and take the exam.3 Note that candidates may not attempt the NCLEX-RN without the Delaware Board of Nursing’s approval.3 However, the Delaware Board of Nursing is unable to approve eligibility for the NCLEX-RN without a completed preliminary registration for the exam on record.3 Registration should be done through the website of Pearson VUE, the company which administers the NCLEX-RN.4

5. Complete the Application for Registered Nurse Licensure.

Those who are ready to apply for licensing as a registered nurse should complete the Application for Licensure As a Registered or Practical Nurse by Examination form.3 The completed form should be forwarded to the Delaware Board of Nursing accompanied by legal proof of identification, such as a driver’s license.3 The candidate must also submit the required licensing fees and request that the school at which a registered nursing program was completed forward official transcripts to the Delaware Board of Nursing.3 Be aware that candidates for licensure for whom more than one year has elapsed since graduating a nursing program must also complete the Petition for Permission to Take the NCLEX More Than One Year After Graduation form.5

6. Obtain a Reference from the Nursing School Attended.

A Nursing Reference form is included in the application for registered nurse licensure.3 Candidates must use this form to request a reference from the school at which the program in registered nursing was completed.3 Applicants should complete the applicant information and authorization to release information page of this form and send the form to the school of nursing for completion of the reference section.3 It is important to note that the form must be returned to the Delaware Board of Nursing by the school and not the applicant.3 Completed forms forwarded by the applicant and not the reference will not be accepted.3

7. Take the NCLEX-RN.

An Authorization to Text for the NCLEX-RN may be issued by the Delaware Board of Nursing following review and approval of the license application materials.3 The candidate should then schedule the NCLEX-RN with Pearson VUE.3 Upon recording of a passing score, the Delaware Board of Nursing will forward a license in registered nursing to the candidate.3 Candidates whose first attempt is unsuccessful are permitted to re-take the examination by paying the appropriate fees and completing the Petition for Permission to Take the NCLEX More Than One Year After Graduation form.3 The NCLEX-RN may be re-attempted once every 45 days for a maximum of eight attempts in the first calendar year.5

6 Steps to Become an Advanced Practice Nurse in Delaware

1. Obtain a Delaware License in Registered Nursing.

Prospective advanced practice nurses must first become licensed as registered nurses in the state of Delaware.6 This includes meeting the normal license requirements for registered nurses and passing the NCLEX-RN.6 Nurses who have never before been licensed as a nurse in Delaware may, however, submit the application to become a registered nurse and the application to become an advanced practice nurse at the same time if all qualifications for both levels of licensure are met.6

2. Complete Appropriate Training in Advanced Nursing.

Advanced practice nurses in Delaware must either have a master’s degree or a post-graduate certificate in a clinical nursing specialty accompanied by national certification from an association recognized by the Delaware Board of Nursing.6 Nurses who are able to become certified at the national level must also complete 600 hours of specialty practice within two years of graduation from the post-graduate program, or 1,500 hours within five years of graduation.6 Nurses who do not pursue the certification route and obtain a post-graduate degree must complete 1,000 hours of practice in the two years prior to applying for a license.6 Note that if national certification that meets the Delaware Board of Nursing requirements in a given specialty is available, an advanced practice nurse must obtain that certification to qualify for licensure.1

3. Submit the Authorization for Release of Information Form.

The Delaware Board of Nursing requires all prospective advanced practice nurses, including those who already hold a Delaware license in registered nursing, to complete a criminal background check.6 The Authorization for Release of Information form is included in the Application for Licensure As An Advanced Practice Nurse and may be completed and brought to any one of the three Delaware facilities approved to complete criminal background checks, which are listed in the application.7

4. Request a Temporary Advanced Practice Nurse Permit, if Desired.

Prospective advanced practice nurses in Delaware may request a temporary permit to practice advanced practice nursing if the practice will be directly supervised by an employer.8 The temporary permit may be requested using the Application for Licensure As An Advanced Practice Nurse.8 Nurses practicing a specialty requiring certification must show proof of certification or eligibility to obtain certification.8 Nurses who do not have the ability to obtain specialty certification and who do not have the required practice hours must obtain verification from the practice supervisor that hours will be supervised and reported.8

5. Complete the Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Nurse.

All prospective advanced practice nurses must complete the Application for Licensure As An Advanced Practice Nurse.7 The application must include a copy of a driver’s license or official identification card, verification of national certification and/or completion of supervised work hours, and official transcripts from the post-graduate program(s) completed.7 Note that the application must also be notarized to be considered complete.7

The Application for Licensure As An Advanced Practice Nurse includes an option to apply for prescriptive authority.7 To qualify for prescriptive authority, advanced practice nurses must have completed the required education outlined by the Delaware Board of Nursing for prescribing drugs.9 Note that this prescriptive authority does not extend to authority to prescribe controlled substances, which may only be granted following issue of an active advanced practice nurse license with prescriptive authority and application for the appropriate registration and control numbers.9

6. Execute a Collaborative Practice Agreement with an Employer.

Advanced practice nurses in Delaware must work under a collaborative practice agreement with a health care facility or licensed physician.1 The collaborative practice agreement may be evidenced to the Delaware Board of Nursing through written verification such as a job description or a work process for consultation and referral.1 A collaborative practice agreement must be in place at each business or practice where the advanced practice nurse intends to work.7 Although a license in advanced practice nursing may be issued without a collaborative practice agreement, an advanced practice nurse is prohibited from working in Delaware as such without having such an agreement in place.7

Delaware Nursing Associations

There are numerous nursing associations in Delaware that can provide nurses at all levels with opportunities for continuing education, professional networking, and career advancement.

Delaware Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants5,270$29,000
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses2,120$50,330
Registered Nurses11,320$70,820
Nurse Practitioners610$103,100

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.10,11,12,13

Job Search Advice

I believe those interested in successful hire into the nursing profession should have:

  1. A BSN – if less than BSN – go back to school part-time to obtain BSN.
  2. Experience in the field they wish to enter – for example if inpatient nursing – volunteer at a hospital or better yet, get a job part-time while still in school as a nursing assistant, unit secretary or other support position.
  3. Practice interviewing – be prepared to demonstrate critical thinking and good work behaviors through scenarios of patients cared for in clinical/practicums, dress professionally, make eye contact, have a professionally prepared resume and portray yourself with confidence and enthusiasm.”

-Donna Casey BSN, MA, RN, FABC, NE-BC is the Secretary of the Delaware Organization of Nurse Leaders and Director of Patient Care Services, Cardiovascular & Critical Care and Co-Chair, Ethics Committee at Christiana Care Health System

References:
1. Delaware Department of State Division of Professional Regulation: Title 24 Regulated Professions and Occupations: 1900 Board of Nursing
2. Delaware Department of State Division of Professional Regulation: Approved Delaware Nursing Education & Refresher Programs
3. State of Delaware Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure as a Registered or Practical Nurse By Examination
4. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
5. State of Delaware Board of Nursing: Petition for Permission to Take the NCLEX More Than One Year After Graduation
6. State of Delaware Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Nurse License
7. State of Delaware Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Nurse
8. State of Delaware Board of Nursing: Temporary APRN Permit
9. State of Delaware Board of Nursing: Prescriptive Authority
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
12. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
13. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm