Founded in 1978 as an independent, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) can trace its roots to the American Nurses Association (ANA) Council on State Boards of Nursing. The impetus for its creation arose out of recognition that in order to guard the safety of the public, the regulation of nurses needed to be a separate entity from the organization representing professional nurses. NCSBN’s membership is comprised of boards of nursing (BONs) that are charged with the responsibility of providing regulatory excellence for public health, safety and welfare, and protecting the public by ensuring that safe and competent nursing care is provided by licensed nurses. NCSBN is the vehicle through which these BONs act and counsel together on matters of common interest. 

BONs recognize that the best way to guard the safety of the public is to ensure that nurses entering the workforce have the necessary knowledge and skills to practice. To meet that goal, NCSBN is devoted to developing a psychometrically sound and legally defensible nurse licensure examination consistent with current nursing practice. NCSBN became the first organization to implement computerized adaptive testing (CAT) for nationwide licensure exams in 1994. In addition to the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN examinations, NCSBN also develops and administers the largest competency evaluation for nurse aides, known as the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP). The ongoing assessment of these exams includes research that gathers job analysis data from entry-level nurses and aides that ultimately contributes to refinement and adaptation of the tests to keep pace with the rapidly evolving health care environment.

Beyond ongoing analysis and measurement of entry-level competence, NCSBN is an active partner with BONs in exploring issues related to health care, government policy, nursing practice, and regulatory processes and initiatives. NCSBN is working with, through and on behalf of its member boards by: