Overview of LPN License Requirements

After having completed your LPN training and pass the NCLEX PN exam, your state board of nursing (BON) will provide you with a license which will allow you to practice as a practical nurse in that state (or other states after endorsement or NLC state, if your home state is NLC state). Upon application of an LPN license, you will be asked to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check. The degree may vary, but it’s good if you don’t have any conviction or DUI (drive under the influence) cases. If your criminal record is not clean, you must have some excuses which mitigate your case and you will be asked by your state BON to present your case afterward.

In addition to the legal requirements, LPN license applicants must also pass the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX PN) in order to get their license (also known as license by examination). License by examination is given for students who graduate from an approved LPN program. But it’s also possible to get an LPN license by endorsement. There are about 23 states that accept and endorse each other’s licenses (there may be more by the time you read this). If you have been given a license in one of these states, you can move to another state and continue working as an LPN with an endorsement from the new state.

License Renewal Requirements

In order to keep your LPN license active, you must practice nursing (the job has to be a paying one) or complete continuing education and secure the required credits and make renewal payments every renewal period. Some states do not require LPNs to get continuing education; in that case, a renewal fee suffices.

License Reinstating

If you have been away from nursing for a long time or didn’t renew your license on time, your license is probably lapsed and you need to submit application to your state BON to reinstate the license, in order to resume working as an LPN again. The procedure and requirements to reinstate an LPN license differs by state; however, in most cases you will need to take LPN refresher courses and you will be issued a temporary license for about 90 days, until you complete the course. To find out more about your state’s procedure requirements on LPN license reinstatement, you should contact you state BON directly.

License Verification and Endorsement

Currently out of state license endorsement is possible in some states, as long as you provide all the required information and you meet the states requirements.

When applying for license endorsement, the usual procedure is for the state BON to verify your license origin. If you have an already endorsed license, you need to get a written verification from the original state that issued your first license. Then an official transcript has to be sent directly to the state board of nursing and a written verification of your NCLEX PN exam has to be sent to the state BON. And, lastly, your criminal background check must come clean.

Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

If your home state is a member of NLC, you are in luck. That means your license issued by your state of residence can also make you licensed in another NLC state. As of April, 2012 the following states are recognized by NCBN as NLC:

  • 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

And the following states are on the way to become NLC state this year:

  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • new Jersey
  • New York
  • Illinois

Here is a good video produced by NCBN that explains how NLC works and its befits.

About State Board of Nursing

Each state, and US territory, runs a Board of Nursing (BON). BONs vary from state to state, how they are run, who runs them, and what they oversee. The differences tend to be very slight. Boards of Nursing were established to monitor and protect both the nurses and the people they help. Currently, each state BON, plus a few other groups, belong to a National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

State Boards of Nursing organize themselves in different ways and under different government agencies. Each is a part of their state government and has to report to their leaders, often the governor. Members of BONs include LPNs, RNs, and nurse practitioners (NPs). A list of members and their current license status is kept, and can be accessed on line by any member of the public.

BONs create a Nurse Practice Act. Nurse Practice Acts differ among the different BONs, but each seek to provide laws to govern the practice of nursing in their state. These acts regulate nursing practice, set forth the laws of nursing, determine who qualifies to work as a nurse, provide titles to be used, sets the scope of practice for each type of nurse and states the punishments and procedures for any nurse who breaks the laws.

Through their Nurse Practice Acts, state Boards of Nursing regulate nursing practice and protect the general public. To this end they control who becomes a nurse, by requiring attendance at a BON accredited school and administering NCLEX exams to help determine qualification. Once both requirements are met, the BON issues a license to each nurse that must be maintained through renewal. There are regulations in place for renewals as well. The BON also monitors those who hold a nursing license.

State Boards of Nursing set for policies, procedures, rules, regulations and standards for nursing care. They do so to protect the welfare of consumers and to offer them the best possible care. Through their monitoring of their nurses, BONs ensure these safe practices and standards are continually met.

If they find negligence and illegal activities, going against state and federal laws and the Nurse Practice Acts, BONs will take legal action against the nurse or nurses in question. If a nurse is found guilty, punishment can be as minor receiving a fine and if sever enough can result in the revoking of a license. Note that practicing without a license is considered a felony. Any time a reprimand is handed out, the information will be listed on the license and available for anyone who wants to know. Every business that employs nurses is required to keep on file copies of all licenses and to make sure the information is kept current.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing is not a national governing body of BONs. Instead it seeks to help build relationships between the different BONs, to provide information and a forum for cooperation, and to disseminate information to various BONs. They help to monitor nursing trends across the whole country by conducting research. The NCSBN assists in the development and administration of the NCLEX test. Their most important role is as facilitator for cooperation between the various BONs.

Every state and territory in the USA provides a governing body to oversee their nurses and nursing care. They do so through State Boards of Nursing. BONs control every aspect of nursing. It is important to know and understand their policies and procedures, punishments, standards of care and Nurse Practice Acts. Information can be found for the various BONs on the NCSBN website, through the state government or through an accredited nursing program.

Last Modified: 16 Apr 2012