Make it Official: Taking Your Exams and Getting Licensed

Have you just finished your entire nurse’s training and are ready to take the next step? Maybe you haven’t even started the process and are wondering how the process works. Or maybe you’ve started it, but it all just seems so confusing. The training is only the first step of a great journey that you’ll embark on to becoming a successful nurse. And once you’ve completed your training you’ll have many doors and options available to you, depending on where you want to take you nursing career.

The step that you’ll want to take next is to sit for your exams and get licensed. By passing the exams and earning a license you’ll prove that you’ve learned the skills necessary to work in the nursing field. There’s a national nursing board that oversees all 50 states and is responsible for licensing, and in addition, each state has its own board exam. You’ll have to pass both of them before you can go to work as a nurse.

What is the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and What Does it Do?

The NCSBN has the responsibility of maintaining and scheduling licensing requirements for all 50 states. Some of the major roles of the NCSBN are:

  • Monitoring trends in public policy, nursing education and practice
  • Administering the nursing exams that provide licenses for both licensed and registered nurses
  • Providing a forum for uniformity in relation to nursing practice and information exchange

They play a crucial role in ensuring conformity of standards across all nurse-training facilities. For instance, they administer all of the registered nurse exams throughout the country.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) and State Board Exams

The ANA is the largest organization in the USA for nurses, and it helps maintain nursing standards all across the country. Each state has its own nursing board and each individual board sets the standard for nursing care safety within their state. The State Boards are in charge of determining what falls in the scope of practice as well as setting the requirements for continuing education for all licensed nurses. For instance, if you’re licensed in one state but plan to move to another, you would have to check with them. Often you’ll need to sit for a new exam for the state that you’re moving to, but not always. 23 states have formed a group known as the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which is an organization that recognizes the license held by a nurse in any of the states within this group.

So, if you are moving from one state to another and they are both in the NLC, you won’t have to take a new exam and the state that you’re moving to will recognize the license that you already hold.

The overall goal of the ANA, the NLC, the NCSBN, as well as the different state boards is to provide the safest standards for the nursing practice. Like many fields in medicine and technology, nurse training and education is constantly evolving and changing. But by working together all these agencies strive to provide the highest quality nurses throughout the country by setting standards for the best of care.

Sitting for Nursing Exams

To sit for the nursing exam you must have completed either an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or have a hospital based diploma. Some exams you must pay to take, such as the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse, and some are only good for several years and must be renewed after a certain amount of time. Many exams are computerized these days, but most are still taken with pencil and paper. You must register beforehand to take any exam, and you’ll be given the time and date and an authorization code that you will have to bring with you. It’s becoming a bit more popular for certain exams to be offered online, but that’s not always the case and you’ll have to check to see what’s offered in your area.

All of this may sound a bit confusing, but once you get the information that you need, it will all start to make sense. The most important thing is that you focus on your training so that when you get to the place where you’re ready to take the exam, you’ll be ready and full of confidence. It’s important not to wait too long after you have completed the training to take the exam because you’ll want to take it while all of the information is still fresh in your mind.

Once you pass the exams you’ll be one step closer to your dream job of being a nurse. There are many steps to becoming a nurse, but once you’ve finished the process, you’ll hold in your hand the key to a career that most people can only dream about. Yes, the exams are a part of that process, but think of it this way: if it was easy, everyone would be a nurse. But the nursing field doesn’t need a quantity of nurses, but rather quality ones.

Find Out More…

Learn More: Taking the Nursing Boards