Nurse Licensing

Posted by Admin on August 14, 2010 under RN Careers | Comments are off for this article

Registered Nurses must be licensed by the state they practice in. This ensures they meet the standards set by their state nursing board, and by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

In order to become licensed as an RN, you must first graduate from a properly accredited nursing program (see How to Become an RN). You then have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, the national licensing exam administered by the NCSBN.

For nurses in most states, you apply to the state you plan to practice in, which may or may not be your home state. Once you pass the NCLEX-RN, your license is valid only in the state you are licensed for.

Nurse Licensing Between States

Since travel nurses frequently move across state lines, they need to have their RN license endorsed by any other state they plan to practice in.

Licensure by endorsement (also called reciprocity) is a process by which an RN meets the nursing standards of another state. It varies from state to state and involves sending in the appropriate paperwork and fees. It may also involve an additional examination if your initial licensing is unacceptable to the receiving state (for example, if your nursing program accreditation is not recognized by the receiving state, or if you took the Canadian Comprehensive Examination rather than the NCLEX-RN). However, regardless of state, nurses who passed the NCLEX-RN do not need to retake it to qualify for licensure by endorsement.

For information on endorsement for your state, contact your state board individually. Contact information for state boards is available here.

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

The exception to requiring endorsement between states is the Nurse Licensure Compact. This is a collection of states that recognize the same standards of nursing, where an RN license from one NLC state is valid in all of them. Currently there are 24 states in the Nurse Licensure Compact, and other states are slowly being persuaded to join.

To be eligible for an NLC multi-state nurse license, the nurse must reside in one of the NLC states. Nurses who live outside of the NLC must still apply for endorsement from each NLC state as they would other states. More information can be found at the NCSBN site.

As of 2010, the Nurse Licensure Compact states are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

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