Licensure

About Nursing Licensure

Licensure is the process by which boards of nursing grant permission to an individual to engage in nursing practice after determining that the applicant has attained the competency necessary to perform a unique scope of practice. Licensure is necessary when the regulated activities are complex and require specialized knowledge and skill and independent decision making. The licensure process determines if the applicant has the necessary skills to safely perform a specified scope of practice by predetermining the criteria needed and evaluating licensure applicants to determine if they meet the criteria.

Components of nursing licensure:

  • Verification of graduation or eligibility for graduation from an approved prelicensure RN or LVN/PN nursing education program
  • Verification of successful completion of NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN examination
  • In some states, criminal background check

To begin the licensure process, search the particular state board of nursing website for applications.

The responsibilities of a licensed nurse include knowledge of, and adherence to, the laws and rules which govern nursing as outlined in the nurse practice act and regulations. Review the nursing law and rules by locating your state nurse practice act and regulations.

Related Publications

Published Date: 2011
Topic: Consumer Outreach

This brochure explains the importance of nurse licensure, including:

  • Why nurses are required to be licensed
  • How BONs safeguard the public by evaluating, issuing and renewing nurse licenses
  • How the nurse practice act (NPA) is implemented
  • Why disciplinary actions are taken against nurses who violate the NPA

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Published Date: 2011
Topic: Practice and Education

This brochure offers nurses an explanation of what boards of nursing (BONs) do for the profession and those who work in it. This brochure provides information regarding:

  • A BON's investigation into violations of a state's nurse practice act (NPA)
  • The process for filing a complaint against a nurse who has exhibited unsafe, negligent or incompetent behavior
  • What a nurse can expect while their complaint is being investigated

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