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Oregon Nursing License Requirements

The Oregon State Board of Nursing recognizes and licenses for several categories of nurse licensure, including practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. To ensure quality of care and patient welfare all nurses practicing in Oregon must be licensed, which requires that prospective nurses begin their careers with an education in nursing. This page will help prospective nurses and those already on their way to becoming licensed determine the next steps to become a licensed nurse in Oregon.

» 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 Oregon

1. Obtain a Diploma or Degree in Nursing.

Prospective practical nurses must obtain at least a certificate or diploma in practical nursing to be eligible for licensure in Oregon.1,2 If based in Oregon, the program completed must be approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing.1 A full list of programs that are approved is available on the Oregon State Board of Nursing website.3 Pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination posted by program graduates are also available to assist prospective nurses in selecting an appropriate program.4

2. Submit the Licensure by Examination Application.

The Oregon State Board of Nursing provides the Licensure by Examination Application for new applications for licensure, and recommends that these forms be submitted well before an applicant is ready to begin work as it may take several weeks for a license to be issued.2 Official transcripts verifying graduation from a nursing program should be forwarded directly to the Oregon State Board of Nursing from the issuing institution to support the application.2 The transcript must bear the official school seal and registrar’s signature.2 Applicants can find a Licensure Transcript Request form in the application materials to use to request and verify to the nursing school what is needed for the transcripts.2

In addition, applicants must provide a passport type photograph taken within the last six months and attach the photograph to the Examination Picture Identification form found in the application packet.2 Those who have graduated from a nursing program within the past year should request that the photograph be verified by the program director by signature; for those who graduated more than one year prior to applying for a license, the photograph and applicant signature should be notarized.2

3. Complete a National Criminal Background Check.

Every applicant for a nursing license in Oregon must complete a national criminal background check through the Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS).1 The Oregon State Board of Nursing provides a fingerprint form for new nurses, though applicants may also use a fingerprint form provided by the fingerprinting facility.5,6 Fingerprints may be taken at a law enforcement agency or a private provider.6 Note that applicants are not required to send the criminal background check materials separately from the application materials and may choose to send the application for licensure, Identity Verification form found in the application, and fingerprint impressions in the same envelope.5

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

To receive a license, practical nurses must post a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).7 The Oregon State Board of Nursing uses Pearson VUE, a test administrator, for the NCLEX-PN exam.7 Applicants must complete a separate online registration process with Pearson VUE to be made eligible to take the NCLEX-PN.7,8 Note that the NCLEX-PN must be attempted within three years from graduating from an approved nursing program.2

The Oregon State Board of Nursing typically receives test results from Pearson VUE within a few days of the examination attempt.7 If the candidate was successful, a license will be issued.7 Candidates who are not successful in passing the NCLEX-PN may apply to re-attempt the exam by paying an additional fee to the Oregon State Board of Nursing and Pearson VUE.2

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Oregon

1. Obtain a Diploma or Degree in Nursing.

Registered nurses must complete at least a certificate or diploma in nursing from an approved program to be eligible for licensure in Oregon.1,2 Nursing programs in Oregon must be approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing to ensure that a graduate is eligible for licensure.1 The Oregon State Board of Nursing provides a complete list of approved programs on its website.3 Candidates for licensure can also access pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination posted by program graduates.4

2. Submit the Licensure by Examination Application.

The Licensure by Examination Application is used to request first time licensure by examination.2 The Oregon State Board of Nursing recommends that these forms be submitted well before an applicant is ready to begin work as it may take several weeks for a license to be issued.2 Applications submitted must be supported by official school transcripts submitted directly from the nursing school to the Oregon State Board of Nursing.2 Note that transcripts must be sealed with the official school seal and be signed by the school registrar.2 To ensure appropriate transcripts are sent, candidates can use the Licensure Transcript Request form found in the application materials to request that the nursing school forward complete transcripts.2

In addition to transcripts, applicants for licensure must furnish the Oregon State Board of Nursing with a passport style photograph taken no more than six months prior to the application; this photograph should be attached to the Examination Picture Identification form found in the application packet.2 Candidates who graduated from a nursing program less than one year prior to applying for a license should have their identity verified on the form by the nursing program director.2 Candidates who graduated more than one year prior to applying for licensure should have the form notarized.2

3. Complete a National Criminal Background Check.

The Oregon State Board of Nursing requires that all applicants for nurse licensure undergo a national criminal background check through the Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS).1 A fingerprint form for this purpose is provided, although fingerprint forms provided and completed by a law enforcement agency or fingerprint vendor are also acceptable.5,6 Candidates may have fingerprint impressions done through a private service or law enforcement.6 If desired, applicants may send the completed fingerprinting forms with the application materials; it is not necessary to submit the materials for the national criminal background check separately.5

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

All registered nurses in Oregon must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).7 Pearson VUE, a third party testing company, has been contracted by the Oregon State Board of Nursing to provide the NCLEX-RN.7 Applicants must therefore complete a secondary registration process for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE before authorization to test can be granted.7,8 Applicants should be aware that the NCLEX-RN must be taken within three years of graduating from a nursing program.2

Test results can typically be issued by the Oregon State Board of Nursing within a few days of the examination attempt.7 If the candidate was successful, a license will be issued.7 Candidates who are not successful in passing the NCLEX-RN may apply to re-attempt the exam by paying an additional fee to the Oregon State Board of Nursing and Pearson VUE.2

6 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Oregon

1. Obtain an Oregon Registered Nurse License.

A nurse practitioner in Oregon must first be licensed as a registered nurse.9 Therefore, those planning to pursue licensure as a nurse practitioner should first complete a registered nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN to achieve registered nurse licensure. In addition, applicants for nurse practitioner licensure must be able to document at least 384 hours of registered nurse practice outside of academic or continuing education requirements.9

2. Complete a Graduate Education in Nursing.

Oregon nurse practitioners must have a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing granted by a program that is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and/or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.9 Nurse practitioner education programs approved by the Oregon State Board of Nursing can be accessed through the Board website.3 Note that recent graduates should apply for nurse practitioner licensure within one year of graduating from the program.9

3. Earn National Certification in a Nurse Practitioner Specialty.

Nurse practitioners must hold certification from a national organization as nurse practitioners or in a nurse practitioner specialty to be eligible for Oregon licensure.9 Such certification must be recognized by the Oregon State Board of Nursing to make a licensure candidate eligible.9 A list of certifications acceptable to the Oregon State Board of Nursing is provided.10

4. Complete a National Fingerprint Background Check.

The Oregon State Board of Nursing requires fingerprint background checks for all new license applications, regardless of whether the applicant was previously licensed in another nurse practice.5 Applicants may contact the Oregon State Board of Nursing for a National Criminal Background Check packet for nurse practitioners.11

5. Complete the Nurse Practitioner Application.

The Oregon State Board of Nursing advises applicants to complete the licensure process for nurse practitioners in advance of accepting employment as it may take several weeks for a license to be issued.11 The appropriate application to use for nurse practitioner licensure is the Nurse Practitioner Application.11 Note that a separate form is required for each specialty the nurse practitioner intends to declare.11

Applicants must request that the master’s or doctoral degree program in nursing completed forward official transcripts attesting graduation to the Oregon State Board of Nursing.11 A Licensure Transcript Request form is included in the application materials to assist applicants in requesting transcripts that meet the Oregon State Board of Nursing criteria.11 In addition, a program director must complete the Verification of Successful Completion of an Advanced Practice Nursing Program form and forward the completed document to the Oregon State Board of Nursing.11

6. Complete the Application for Prescriptive Authority.

Nurse practitioners in Oregon are required to hold prescriptive authority, which is granted through a secondary licensing process.11 The forms for prescriptive authority are, however, included in the initial licensure packet.11
Applicants must be sure to read the “Prescriptive Authority in Oregon for Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists” brochure and return the attestation postcard included in the brochure and application for licensure to the Oregon State Board of Nursing.11,12

The requirements to hold prescriptive authority vary according to the education program and experience of the nurse practitioner applicant.11 Recent graduates who are completing the first time application whose nursing programs included 45 contact hours in pharmacology and a 150 hour or more clinical practicum in prescribing will not be required to complete a practicum.11 Graduates who did not complete the required contact hours or practicum will need to complete such an education as well as supervised practice under a limited license before full prescriptive authority can be granted.11

The Prescriptive Authority Application and required supporting forms according to the applicant’s education and experience are included in the nurse practitioner application packet and should be completed thoroughly and submitted to the Oregon State Board of Nursing.11 After prescriptive authority is granted, nurse practitioners must apply to the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for a control number prior to dispensing or prescribing controlled substances.12 The registration can be completed through the DEA website.13

Oregon Nursing Associations

Current and future nurses working in Oregon can find professional benefits from joining a nursing association, such as networking, continuing education, and employment opportunities.

Oregon Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants12,570$26,400
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses2,630$47,360
Registered Nurses28,840$78,530
Nurse Practitioners1,190$103,280

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

References:
1. Oregon State Board of Nursing: RN/LPN Licensure Information
2. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Licensure by Examination Application
3. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Approved Nursing Education Program List
4. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Educational Program Pass Rates
5. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Fingerprint-Based Background Checks Frequently Asked Questions
6. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Fingerprint Identity Verification Form
7. Oregon State Board of Nursing: New Nursing Graduates
8. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
9. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Licensure
10. Oregon State Board of Nursing: National Nurse Practitioner Certifications Meeting Board Criteria
12. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Nurse Practitioner Application
13. Oregon State Board of Nursing: Prescriptive Authority in Oregon for Advanced Practice Nurses
14. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970