Your Guide to Licensing

There are lots of options to consider for nursing students wanting to explore job opportunities early during their quest for education by so doing it ensures students understanding on the path to tread on towards their ideal career alongside the steps to be taken.

A graduate pursuing a master of science in nursing has to be qualified candidates for advanced practice nursing careers and many has interest in obtaining license.  Before going down this path students may find it helpful to understand the difference between licensed and non licensed nurses.

Without a license, health care professionals cannot practice nursing. As the Huston Chronicles explains those with a nursing degree might decide not to pursue a degree if they intend to work as home health care helpers, medical assistants, medical lab technologists or technicians. Nursing graduates can also become medical records technicians with no professional license. While all of these careers enables candidates to work closely with patients in clinical or administrative setting and none of them allow for nursing practice.

Health care practitioners wanting to become registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses or advanced practice registered nurses must obtain a license. With a license, practical nursing explains that LPNs and LVNs can take vital signs, dress wounds, administer medications and give food. They usually work under the supervision of registered nurses who coordinate patient care plans, administer the right treatments, provide health related teachings and conduct patient related searches.

The National Council of States Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) states, Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) may be either Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNPs) or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNSs), they both provide advanced health care services and may diagnose, treat and manage diseases.

According to the NCSBN, obtaining a license shows nurses meeting national and state standard proving they can provide high quality health care services. Licensed nurses can work in physician’s office, hospitals, office, clinics and other professional setting; others may decide to specialize in other medical areas such as   emergency care, psychiatric amongst others.


Being licensed can give way for lots of opportunities in the health care sector but nurses must first go through several processes before becoming licensed. There are several steps involved in obtaining this license below.

  1. Students must have completed their education to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing to build a great foundation and gain important experience in clinical sector.
  2. Most nurses may decide to get a graduate degree in nursing in order to further their educational foundation and get more experience on attending to patients either on a field job or doing a research. Having a master’s degree can help students pursue higher-level  positions including administrative roles.
  3. Interested nurses may apply for a license after completing a nursing program, candidates should meet with their states Board of Nursing (BON) to confirm local requirement. Every state has its BON and as some differs at evaluating separate bodies like the RNs, LPNs, LVNs, or APRNS. The BON evaluates all submitted applications to confirm that nurses meet the stated standards and the board also issues and renew license.
  4. In obtaining a license, all nurses must pass either the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN examination. The nurse journal explains that this exam is nationwide and it involves four categories; safe and effective care, coping and adaptation, health maintenance and promotion and finally physiological integrity.
  5. Passing the examination is just a step to getting the license amongst other possible barriers however, individual requirement vary by state, and most candidates must also complete a criminal background check, proof of proficient in the English language and demonstrate that they are in good health physically and mentally. Candidates having met all the necessary requirement and paid the appropriate fees, the BON will award license, the validity of the license depends on the states BON requirement     at such its renewal will be 2years in most states.



Getting a professional license is a great accomplishment in any nurse’s career, the following tips are necessary to avoid problems and enjoy smooth process.

  1. It’s of great necessity that the states licensing requirements are understood to enable you not to leave out any main component. Though licensing processes are alike from one state to another, every jurisdiction differs in their requirements such as finger print requirement check and applicants to provide a notable signature.
  2. Nurses who move from one state to another should aim about the licensing process of their new residence early during the moving process. Some state endorse for license, causing nurses to transfer their nurses to a new state however a new background check have to be completed or the submission of extra paperwork to secure the new license. Having an active license affect job opportunities, nurses must not delay the endorsement process.
  3. Nurses aspiring for top positions in their fields can further by getting the professional credentials like the American Nurses Credentialing Centre (ANCC) provide a number of competency-based examination that checks the applicants knowledge in specific aspects also with extra credentials, licensed professional may be better opportune to pursue and excel in specific nursing roles.
  4. Securing a license and completing a graduate program are necessary steps for professionals who are interested advanced nursing roles. Interested nurses should take notes of the licensing protocols and best practice to get ready for every step of this promising career path.


Obtaining a license and completing a graduate program are important steps for professionals who want to pursue advanced roles in nursing.  Aspiring nurses should make note of the licensing process and best practices to prepare for each step of this rewarding career path. To learn more about your educational options, visit the Maryville University Online Master of Science in Nursing degree program.