Virginia Nursing License Requirements
The Virginia Board of Nursing is responsible for the licensing and oversight of nurses practicing within the state of Virginia. Among the categories of licensure recognized and issued by the Virginia Board of Nursing are practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. All nurses must earn an education appropriate to the level of practice to be eligible for licensure in the state. Below, learn more about what it takes to become a practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in Virginia.
» 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 Virginia
1. Earn a Certificate or Degree in Practical Nursing.
Licensed practical nurses must have a degree or certificate in practical nursing to qualify for licensure in Virginia. The Virginia Board of Nursing grants approval to programs operating in the state that meet the education requirements for state licensure of graduates.1 Programs located in other states that have equivalent education requirements may also be considered satisfactory for meeting licensure qualifications.2
2. Submit an Online Application for Practical Nurse Licensure.
Applications for practical nurse licensure are accepted exclusively online through the Virginia Department of Health Professions licensure application portal.3 Candidates should be prepared to provide information on the school attended and certificate or degree earned and must request official transcripts be forwarded by the school(s) attended to the Virginia Board of Nursing as necessary.
3. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
Prospective practical nurses must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to earn a practical nursing license in Virginia.3 Registration for the exam is completed through Pearson VUE, a third-party company that delivers and scores the NCLEX-PN on behalf of the Virginia Board of Nursing.4 Candidates who do not pass the NCLEX-PN on the first attempt may reapply to take the exam using the form Application and Instructions for Licensure by Repeat Examination for Practical Nurses.5 Note that an additional registration through Pearson VUE is also required for exam reattempts.5
3 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Virginia
1. Earn a Degree in Registered Nursing.
Registered nurses in Virginia must typically earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree to be eligible for licensure in the state.1 Registered nurse preparation programs that meet the qualifications for nurse licensure that are located in Virginia are approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing, which provides a list of approved programs on its website.1 Graduates of programs located outside of the state of Virginia may also be qualified for licensure if the program has equivalent education requirements.2
2. Submit an Online Application for Registered Nurse Licensure.
The Virginia Board of Nursing uses an all-online application process for first-time applicants for registered nurse licensure by examination.3 The application is accessed through the Virginia Department of Health Professions licensure application portal.3 To streamline the application process candidates should gather the appropriate materials, including information on the school attended and credential earned, prior to beginning the application. Candidates should also be prepared to request official transcripts to be forwarded by the school to the Virginia Board of Nursing as necessary.
3. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.
A passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is required to be eligible for Virginia registered nurse licensure.3 The Virginia Board of Nursing uses a third-party testing service, Pearson VUE, to deliver and score the NCLEX-RN.4 Those who are not able to pass the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt have the option of a second attempt through re-application using the paper form Application and Instructions for Licensure by Repeat Examination for Registered Nurses.6 Note that an additional registration through Pearson VUE is also required for exam reattempts.6
7 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Virginia
1. Obtain a Registered Nurse License in Virginia or a Compact State.
Virginia requires prospective nurse practitioners to first obtain a registered nurse license in Virginia or a compact state with multistate licensure privileges covered in the Virginia licensure compact.7 Prospective nurse practitioners must therefore complete an appropriate nursing education and pass the NCLEX-RN.
2. Earn a Master’s or Graduate Degree in Advanced Nursing.
All nurse practitioners in Virginia must hold a graduate degree to qualify for nurse practitioner licensure.7 The curriculum completed should correspond to one or more of the specialty certification areas recognized by the Virginia Board of Nursing.7
3. Obtain Professional National Certification as a Nurse Practitioner.
Professional nurse practitioner certification issued by a national organization is required as part of the licensure process in Virginia.7 A list of organizations from which professional certification by examination will be accepted is available online.7 Examinations from organizations not listed may be considered if that examination has similar requirements to the examinations and organizations approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing.7
4. Complete the Online Application for Nurse Practitioners.
The Virginia Board of Nursing uses a wholly online application process for nurse practitioners through the Virginia Department of Health Professions Initial Application web portal.3 Applicants should have all relevant information at hand prior to beginning the application, including registered nurse license number and education history. Applicants will be instructed during the application process on how to provide proof of national certification and education.
5. Request a Provisional License, If Desired.
A provisional nurse practitioner’s license may be requested and issued if an applicant has met all licensure requirements except for national certification.7 To be eligible an applicant must not have previously sat for a certifying exam and must demonstrate to the Virginia Board of Nursing that the requisite exam has been scheduled.7 A provisional license is valid for six months from the date of issue or until a provisional licensee is notified that he or she has failed the certifying exam.7
6. Execute a Written Practice Agreement with a Licensed Physician.
Nurse practitioners in Virginia function as part of a collaborative patient care team with a physician.7 All nurse practitioners must execute a written or electronic practice agreement with a licensed physician prior to beginning work.7 Such an agreement must outline periodic review of patient materials, the process for referrals, and the nurse practitioner’s scope of authority.7 The practice agreement must be made available to the Virginia Board of Nursing upon request.7
7. Apply for Prescriptive Authority, If Desired.
Nurse practitioners in Virginia may be eligible to hold prescriptive authority provided that the candidate has met experience and education requirements as outlined in the Code of the Commonwealth of Virginia.8 A nurse practitioner’s prescriptive authority, once issued, is also governed by the scope of the practice agreement devised in collaboration with a patient care team physician.8 Dispensation, prescription, or delivery of controlled substances also requires registration with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).9 Prescriptive authority may be applied for through the Virginia Board of Nursing concurrent with or following initial licensure using the online licensing portal.3
Virginia Nursing Associations
Current and future nurses practicing in Virginia may wish to join a Virginia nursing association for access to networking, employment opportunities, and continuing education.
- Virginia Association of School Nurses
- Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners
- Virginia Nurses Association
- Virginia Nursing Students’ Association
- Virginia Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders
- Virginia State Council Emergency Nurses Association
Virginia Nursing Salary
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses||21,410||$41,450|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.10,11,12,13
1. Virginia Board of Nursing: Education Programs
2. Chapter 30 of Title 54.1 of the Code of Virginia: Nursing
3. Virginia Department of Health Professions: Initial Applications
4. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
5. Virginia Board of Nursing: Application and Instructions for Licensure by Repeat Examination as a Practical Nurse
6. Virginia Board of Nursing: Application and Instructions for Licensure by Repeat Examination as a Registered Nurse
7. Commonwealth of Virginia: Emergency Regulations Governing the Licensure of Nurse Practitioners 18 VAC 90-30-10 et seq.
8. Commonwealth of Virginia: Emergency Regulations for Prescriptive Authority for Nurse Practitioners 18 VAC 90-40-10 et seq.
9. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970
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