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Louisiana Nursing License Requirements

Louisiana recognizes and licenses several categories of nursing, including practicatl nursing, registered nursing, and nurse practitioners. Practical nurses in the state are licensed and overseen by the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners, while registered nurses and nurse practitioners are licensed and overseen by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. In all cases, the journey to licensure begins with an education in nursing through a diploma or degree program. Learn more about the requirements for each category of licensure 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)

4 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Louisiana

1. Complete an Education in Practical Nursing.

Completion of a program in practical nursing is required to obtain a license as a practical nurse.1 A practical nursing program must consist of at least 1,500 hours of instruction over a period of at least 12 months, at least 500 hours of which must be in theory and at least 800 hours of which must be clinical.1 A list of practical nursing programs approved as meeting these requirements is available through the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners.2

2. Complete a Federal Bureau of Investigation Background Check, If Required.

The Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners may require some candidates to complete a criminal history background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.3 The Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners suggests that candidates follow the FBI instructions for obtaining a background check for licensure where required.4 Candidates may wish to check with their nursing program or the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners to determine whether a background check is required in their circumstances.

3. Submit the First Time Writers Application.

The Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners provides the First Time Writers Application for practical nurse candidates who are applying for licensure and attempting the National Council Licensure Examination for the first time.5 The application should be accompanied by a passport style photograph 2 inches by 2 inches in size that is signed and dated by both the candidate and an instructor from the practical nursing program.5

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

Prospective licensed practical nurses must register for and take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).6 The registration is completed through Pearson VUE, a third party company that the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners uses to administer and score the NCLEX-PN.6 After approval or Authorization to Test is received from Pearson VUE and the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners, candidates may schedule and attempt the exam.6 Candidates who are not successful on the NCLEX-PN may re-attempt the examination once every 45 days.7 Note that repeat attempts require re-application to the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners using the Repeat Writers Application.7

5 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Louisiana

1. Complete an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.

Registered nurses in Louisiana must complete a nursing education program appropriate for the level of practice of registered nurses.1 A list of schools approved by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing that offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing is available on the Board’s website.8 Schools in other states that have requirements equivalent to or exceeding the requirements for approval by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing may also be acceptable.1

2. Complete the Louisiana Criminal Background Check, If Applicable.

Louisiana requires prospective registered nurses to undergo a criminal background check if a Louisiana criminal background check was not completed contingent to admission to a nursing education program.9 Candidates who did complete the background check prior to entering a nursing program in Louisiana are not required to repeat the process.9

For all other candidates, the background check should be completed on fingerprint cards that are provided by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.10 The cards may be obtained by submitting the Exam Applicants Request for Fingerprint Cards form via fax to 225-755-7580.11

Once the fingerprint cards have been received, the candidate may take the cards to a college or university campus security office or local law enforcement to have fingerprint impressions done.11 Alternatively, candidates may have fingerprints taken at the Louisiana State Board of Nursing office in Baton Rouge with the LiveScan fingerprinting system.11 The completed fingerprint forms should be forwarded to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing along with the Authorization for Criminal Background Check form and the application for registered nurse licensure.11

3. Submit the Application for Licensure as Registered Nurse by Examination.

Candidates for registered nurse licensure should complete the Application for Licensure as Registered Nurse by Examination form.12 This application should be submitted to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing at least 60 days prior to graduation from a nursing program to ensure that licenses can be issued timely following graduation.9 Note that the form includes an affidavit that must be notarized.12 Remember to include, if required, the completed fingerprint impressions, Authorization for Criminal Background Check form, and all fees with the initial application to avoid processing delays.12

4. Request a Temporary Permit, If Desired.

Prospective registered nurses may receive a temporary permit to practice for up to 90 days following the date of graduation from a nursing program.9 The permit is valid either for 90 days or until National Council Licensure Examination results are received.9 A permit may be requested by completing the appropriate sections of the application for licensure.12

5. Register for and Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

Issuance of a license to practice registered nursing in Louisiana is contingent upon a candidate earning a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Candidates may register for the NCLEX-RN once they have graduated from a nursing program.9 The registration for the exam is completed through Pearson VUE, a third party test administrator used by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.13 After the registration has been reviewed and approved, an Authorization to Test will be issued that allows candidates to schedule and take the exam.9 Candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN within four years of graduating from a nursing program, and may take up to four attempts to earn a passing score.1 Exam results are sent by regular mail within three weeks of exam completion.9

8 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Louisiana

1. Obtain a License to Practice Registered Nursing.

An active and unencumbered registered nurse license in the state of Louisiana or an equivalent state is a prerequisite for becoming a nurse practitioner.1 This means that nurse practitioner candidates must obtain the requisite education and pass the NCLEX-RN.

2. Earn a Graduate Degree in Nursing.

A minimum of a master’s degree is required to become a nurse practitioner in Louisiana.1 Acceptable degrees include, but are not limited to, Master of Science in Nursing, Master’s of Nursing, and Master of Science.1 The degree must correlate to the nursing specialty that the prospective nurse practitioner intends to declare and must be focused on preparation for advanced practice nursing.1 A list of graduate degree programs in Louisiana that are approved by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing is provided on the Board’s website.8

3. Earn National Certification as a Nurse Practitioner.

Prospective nurse practitioners must first earn certification that is recognized at the national level from a certifying association approved by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.1 The certification must be in a designated area of care. Recognized associations and areas of care that are eligible to meet the Louisiana State Board of Nursing’s requirements are listed in the Louisiana Administrative Code.1 A list is also available through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.14

4. Complete the Application for Nurse Practitioners.

The Louisiana State Board of Nursing provides an application packet to prospective nurse practitioners that includes the Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Licensure by Examination, the Verification of Advanced Practice Education form, and the Verification of National Certification form, as well as supplemental forms that might not be required in all circumstances.15 The required forms should be completed in their entirety and submitted to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing; notice that select forms require notarization.15

Note that if the candidate did not complete a criminal history record check when obtaining licensure in Louisiana as a registered nurse, he or she will be required to undergo such a background check before becoming eligible for licensure as a nurse practitioner.1

5. Request a Temporary Permit (Optional).

Nurse practitioners who are not yet licensed may request a temporary permit to practice.1 The permit will be issued if the prospective nurse practitioner is in the process of obtaining a license and has supplied proof to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing that a national certifying exam has been scheduled but has not yet been taken or has been taken and results are pending.1 A temporary permit allows the candidate to practice under direct supervision by an appropriately licensed individual for a maximum of 120 days.1 A temporary permit may be requested by submitting the appropriate documents from the schedule provided in the application packet, according to the candidate’s circumstances at the time of application.15

6. Complete the Louisiana Criminal Background Check, If Applicable.

If a prospective nurse practitioner has not completed a background check as part of obtaining registered nurse licensure, a criminal background check is required prior to obtaining a license as a nurse practitioner.1 Licensed registered nurses who did complete such a background check will not be required to repeat the check unless requested to do so by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.1

If applicable, candidates should request fingerprint cards from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing by faxing the Exam Applicants Request for Fingerprint Cards form via fax to 225-755-7580.11

After receipt of the blank fingerprint cards, applicants may have fingerprint impressions taken at a college or university security office or a local law enforcement office.11 Alternatively, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing office in Baton Rouge offers fingerprinting through the LiveScan fingerprinting system.11 The completed fingerprint forms should be forwarded to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing along with the Authorization for Criminal Background Check form and the application for nurse practitioner licensure.11

7. Form a Collaborative Practice Agreement With a Licensed Physician.

Any nurse practitioner who performs medical diagnosis and/or management in the state of Louisiana must practice under a written collaborative practice agreement with a licensed physician, or if applicable to the practice area, a licensed dentist.1 The agreement should use clinical practice guidelines for methods of management and follow standards of practice for nurse practitioners.1 A template for a collaborative agreement is available through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.16

8. Request Prescriptive Authority.

In Louisiana, prescriptive authority requires a separate licensing process from the process for nurse practitioner licensing.1 To qualify, the candidate must be currently licensed as a nurse practitioner and be able to demonstrate at least 500 hours of clinical practice and 45 contact hours (three academic credit hours) of education in advanced pharmacotherapeutics as well as 45 contact hours in physiology/pathophysiology.1 To earn prescriptive authority nurse practitioners must also amend the collaborative practice agreement to address the planned authority and responsibilities of the nurse practitioner as it pertains to prescribing and dispensing.1 Note that the collaborating physician must be approved by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.1 Nurse practitioners may submit the Application for Initial Prescriptive Authority to become licensed to prescribe.17

Authority to dispense controlled substances is granted at the discretion of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing on identified need for such authority based on the perimeters of practice.1 Nurse practitioners may complete the Request for Addition of Controlled Substances for Prescriptive Authority form to obtain a license to prescribe controlled substances.18 To prescribe controlled substances, in addition to obtaining prescriptive authority nurse practitioners must obtain a Louisiana Controlled Dangerous Substance permit and registration with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration.1

Louisiana Nursing Associations

Louisiana nursing associations can offer current and future nurses practicing in the state opportunities to find employment, network professionally, and pursue continuing education.

Louisiana Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants22,720$20,730
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses22,540$37,820
Registered Nurses40,180$61,260
Nurse Practitioners970$93,640

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

References:
1. Louisiana Administrative Code Title 46 Part XLVII. Nurses
2. Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners: Approved Practical Nursing Programs
3. Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners: Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 37, Chapter 11, Part II. Practical Nurses
4. Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners: FBI Background Checks
5. Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners: First Time Writers Application
6. Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners: The 8 Steps of the NCLEX
7. Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners: Repeat Writers Application
8. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Approved Nursing Education Programs
9. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Application Instructions for Initial Licensure By Exam for Registered Nurses
10. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Exam Applicants Request for Fingerprint Cards
11. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Fingerprint Instructions and Authorization for Criminal Background Check
12. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure as Registered Nurse by Examination
13. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
14. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice National Certifying Organizations
15. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Licensure by Examination Packet
16. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Collaborative Practice Agreement
17. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Application for Initial Prescriptive Authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
18. Louisiana State Board of Nursing: Request for Addition of Controlled Substances for Prescriptive Authority for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse