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Maryland Nursing License Requirements

The Maryland Board of Nursing is responsible for licensing and overseeing nurses practicing in the state. The categories of licensure in Maryland include licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and nurse practitioner. To become a nurse in Maryland candidates begin by completing an education in nursing, and may pursue higher levels of education and licensure to advance. This page will help new prospective nurses and prospective nurses who are already on their way to acquiring a nursing license learn what to do next to earn a license to practice nursing in Maryland.

» 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 Maryland

1. Earn a Diploma, Certificate, or Degree in Practical Nursing.

Prospective licensed practical nurses must begin the licensure process by earning a diploma, certificate, or degree in practical nursing approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing or with a curriculum substantially equivalent to programs approved by the Board.1 Most approved programs for practical nurses are at least one year in length.2 Approved programs for practical nurse preparation in the state are available on the Maryland Board of Nursing website.3 Pass/fail rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for graduates of approved programs are also available on the Maryland Board of Nursing website.4

2. Complete a Criminal History Record Check.

The Maryland Board of Nursing requires all first-time applicants for practical nurse licensing to complete state and federal criminal history record checks.5 The fingerprint cards to be used must be supplied by the Maryland Board of Nursing.5 A fingerprint card and instructions are available through the Maryland Board of Nursing website.6 Fingerprint impressions can be taken by approved private providers, the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System, or Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offices.6 The cards are pre-printed with the appropriate return addresses for completing the background checks.6

Fingerprint processing generally takes three to four weeks. However, once the Maryland State Board of Nursing has received confirmation that fingerprint impressions have been done the applicant can be made eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination before results are received.5

3. Request and Complete an Application for Practical Nurse Licensure.

An application for practical nurse licensing must be requested through the Maryland Board of Nursing website.1 The application must be submitted before registering for the National Council Licensure Examination.7 Note that even if the licensed practical nurse candidate lives in a compact state, he or she must have residency in Maryland to be eligible for initial licensure as a practical nurse in Maryland.8 A Declaration of Primary State of Residence form is provided on the Maryland Board of Nursing website to verify state of residence.9 This form should be included when returning the application packet to the Maryland Board of Nursing.9

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

The Maryland Board of Nursing uses Pearson VUE, a third party test administrator, to assess and score the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).7 Candidates must register to take the NCLEX-PN through Pearson VUE before they can receive an Authorization to Test to schedule and attempt the exam from the Maryland Board of Nursing.7 Pearson VUE allows online registration for the exam.10 Candidates have up to six months under the Authorization to Test to attempt the exam.11 A candidate who does not successfully pass the NCLEX-PN may apply to the Maryland Board of Nursing to re-attempt the exam after 45 days and on payment of an additional fee.12

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Maryland

1. Earn a Degree in Nursing.

Prospective registered nurses in Maryland must complete at least an associate’s degree in nursing to be eligible for licensure.2 The program completed should be approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing.11 A list of approved programs for the preparation of licensed registered nurses is available on the Maryland Board of Nursing website.13 Historical pass/fail rates on the National Council Licensure Examination are also available through the Maryland Board of Nursing.4

2. Complete a Criminal History Record Check.

All first-time applicants for licensure as registered nurses must complete state and federal criminal history record checks.5 The Maryland Board of Nursing provides pre-printed fingerprint cards for candidates to submit; note that forms from other providers are not acceptable.5 The required fingerprint cards and instructions can be accessed on the website of the Maryland Board of Nursing.6 Approved providers for taking fingerprint impressions include private providers as listed in the instruction sheet with the fingerprint cards, the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System, and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offices.6 Completed cards should be returned to the pre-printed addresses on the cards.6

Fingerprint processing generally takes three to four weeks. However, once the Maryland State Board of Nursing has received confirmation that fingerprint impressions have been done the applicant can be made eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination before results are received.5

3. Request and Submit the Application for Licensure.

Candidates for registered nurse licensure must request an application packet from the Maryland Board of Nursing.14 Note that a prospective Maryland registered nurse must first acquire Maryland residency to be eligible for first time registered nurse licensure by examination in the state.8 To certify Maryland residency, the Maryland Board of Nursing requires that applicants provide the Declaration of Primary State of Residence form when returning the application materials for consideration.9

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

To administer the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), the Maryland Board of Nursing uses Pearson VUE, a third party test administrator.14 To begin the examination process candidates must register to take the NCLEX-RN on the Pearson VUE website.10 Once registered, candidates will receive an Authorization to Test to schedule and attempt the NCLEX-RN exam.14 The Authorization to Test is valid for up to six months. 11 A candidate who fails to achieve a passing score on the NCLEX-RN may apply to the Maryland Board of Nursing to re-attempt the exam after 45 days and on payment of an additional fee.12

6 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Maryland

1. Obtain Active Licensure as a Maryland Registered Nurse.

To be eligible for a nurse practitioner’s license in Maryland, candidates must first have an active Maryland registered nurse license.15 Applicants should therefore obtain an education appropriate for registered nurses and complete the registered nurse licensing process, which includes passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

2. Complete a Graduate Education in Nursing.

A list of nurse practitioner preparation programs approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing which includes programs and specialties across the US is available on the Board’s website.16 The education program completed must include course work in advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced physical assessment.15 If a program has not already been approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing it must seek approval for a candidate to be eligible for nurse practitioner licensure.15 A candidate can ask the program to request approval by completing the Information for Nurse Practitioner Program Approval form.17

3. Obtain National Certification.

Nurse practitioners in Maryland must obtain certification from a national association that grants certification for nurse practitioners by examination.15 A list of certifying bodies approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing is available in the instructions for applying for nurse practitioner licensure.15 Candidates may apply for licensure once a national certifying examination has been scheduled, but a license can not be issued until such an examination is passed.15

4. Complete the Maryland Board of Nursing Application for Nurse Practitioner Certification.

Once a candidate has acquired the requisite nurse practitioner education and has obtained, or scheduled an exam to obtain, national certification he or she may apply to become a nurse practitioner by completing the Application for Nurse Practitioner Certification.15 The candidate must request official transcripts from the education program completed to be sent to the Maryland Board of Nursing to support the application, and must also provide evidence of national certification or scheduling of the national certification exam.15 The Declaration of Residence for Advanced Practice section of the form should be completed to verify Maryland residency.15

5. Execute and Submit Attestation of Collaboration.

Nurse practitioners in the state of Maryland must actively collaborate with a licensed physician to practice.18 Collaboration should be defined by a formal, written document outlining the nurse practitioner’s responsibilities and authorities.18 Note that the Nurse Practitioner Attestation Form must be received, reviewed, and approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing before a nurse practitioner may legally practice in the state.19 A nurse practitioner must file a new attestation form any time that a change is made to the nurse practitioner’s employer, collaborating physician, or scope of practice.18 Note that even independently practicing nurse practitioners must have a collaborative agreement and current attestation on file.18

6. Obtain Prescriptive Authority for Controlled Substances, If Desired.

Upon licensure, nurse practitioners in Maryland are automatically granted prescriptive authority for non-controlled substances.18 Authority for controlled substances requires applying to the Maryland Division of Drug Control.18 This may be done by completing the Application for Controlled Dangerous Substances Registration.20 Following approval from the Division of Drug Control nurse practitioners may apply to the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration for a federal control number which combined with the authority of the Maryland Board of Nursing and Division of Drug Control will allow the nurse practitioner to dispense controlled substances under the circumstances delegated in a collaborative agreement.18

Maryland Nursing Associations

Maryland nursing associations can offer prospective and licensed nurses in the state access to professional networking, educational opportunities, and employment openings.

Maryland Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 27,690 $28,810
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 12,190 $49,900
Registered Nurses 45,630 $71,090
Nurse Practitioners 1,860 $91,160

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

References:
1. Maryland Board of Nursing: NCLEX Application Instructions for a US Trained PN
2. Maryland Board of Nursing: Types of Programs
3. Maryland Board of Nursing: Practical Nursing Programs
4. Maryland Board of Nursing: NCLEX Exam Pass/Fail Rates by Education Program in the State of Maryland
5. Maryland Board of Nursing: Fact Sheet – Criminal History Records Checks for NCLEX, Endorsement, and 1st-time CNA Applicants
6. Maryland Board of Nursing: Instructions for Completing the Criminal History Record Check
7. Maryland Board of Nursing: NCLEX-PN Application Instructions
8. Maryland Board of Nursing
9. Maryland Board of Nursing: Declaration of Primary State of Residence Form
10. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
11. Code of Maryland Regulations Title 10 Subtitle 27: Board of Nursing
12. Maryland Board of Nursing: Exam Reschedule Form
13. Maryland Board of Nursing: Registered Nursing Programs
14. Maryland Board of Nursing: NCLEX-RN Application Instructions
15. Maryland Board of Nursing: Application and Instructions for Nurse Practitioner Certification
16. Maryland Board of Nursing: Approved Nurse Practitioner Programs
17. Maryland Board of Nursing: Information Required for Nurse Practitioner Program Approval
18. Maryland Board of Nursing: Instructions for Completing and Submitting the Nurse Practitioner Attestation Form & Supporting Documents
19. Maryland Board of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner Attestation Form
20. Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Division of Drug Control: Application for Controlled Dangerous Substances Registration