In Arizona, registered nurses and practical nurses are licensed by examination (or by endorsement if credentialed in another jurisdiction). Arizona is a Nurse Compact state at the RN and PN levels, so candidates from other compact states won’t need to apply for licensure unless Arizona is to become their primary state of licensing.
The Arizona State Board of Nursing handles licensing. There are additional organizations in the state providing resources. The Arizona Nursing Association is a statewide professional organization for nurses. The affiliated Arizona Nurses Foundation offers small scholarships ($500 to $1,000) to prospective RNs. Other scholarships are available at the school level.
The Board of Nursing (BON) reports that in 2011, AZ RNs had a 91.32% first time NCLEX pass rate, compared to 81.90% nationwide. AZ PNs had a 94.84% pass rate, compared 84.84% for the nation as a whole. BON reports pass rates above the national average for every year from 2006 – 2011 (with wider margins at the PN level). The Board issues warning notes when schools fall below 75%.
The state offers no official NCLEX prep, but does offer some advice in the FAQ, geared toward candidates who have failed an exam attempt (https://www.azbn.gov/education/nclex).
The National Nursing Database reports that there are 73,980 RNs licensed within the state and 10,865 PNs.
It is improtant to find a program that will qualify you for licensure. Read "Choosing an LPN program in Arizona" to make sure you are on the right track.
Practical nursing candidates need to complete a state approved certificate or diploma program. Approved programs can be found on the Board site: https://www.azbn.gov/education/programs/rn-lpn-programs. Fingerprinting and CPR certification are typically required for admission to PN programs. Some programs require the HESI or other skills test. A drug test is often necessary before a student begins the clinical part of the program.
Students may apply to the Arizona Board when they are in the final two months of the program. The application can be found on the Board site (https://www.azbn.gov/applications). Included in the packet are an application checklist and time frame for licensure.
Educational requirements must be verified. Directors of Arizona programs will send verification of completion to the Board. Otherwise, official transcripts are required. Candidates must also document lawful presence within the state. There is a $300 application fee and $50 fingerprinting fee (https://www.azbn.gov/resources/agency-fee-structure). Upon receipt of application, the Board will mail a fingerprinting card. Candidates must use this card.
It is also necessary to register with the testing company, Pearson (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex/) and pay the $200 fee. Once a candidate has been authorized to test, the candidate can schedule the NCLEX-PN computerized exam. A candidate may retake the exam as many times as necessary (subject to additional fees).
Arizona expects that candidates will seek licensure within two years of graduation. For those who don’t, and those out-of-state candidates who have neither completed an advanced educational program nor worked 960 hours in the previous five years, a refresher program is required. Candidates fill out an application for temporary licensure before doing the clinical part of the program (https://www.azbn.gov/applications). There is a $50 fee for the temporary license. In order to receive it, candidates must document that they have paid fees for the refresher course. This special license does not qualify the holder to engage in other work activities.
Out-of-state candidates who do not need refreshers may apply immediately for licensure by endorsement. Endorsement candidates pay a $150 application fee.
If a candidate comes from another compact state but is now a resident of Arizona, the candidate will need to apply to Arizona. The candidate can practice on the old license for up to 30 days, though, while going through the licensing process in Arizona.
Candidates from other countries have additional paperwork requirements. Canadian candidates may choose to verify their education by providing evidence of licensure and passing scores on the English version of CNATS. Candidates from other countries must present credentials from CGFNS or have their educational equivalency evaluated. Candidates from countries where English is not the main language (and from the Canadian providence of Quebec) will also need to demonstrate English proficiency.
Candidates for RN should enroll in a Board-approved program at the associate, diploma, or baccalaureate level. Arizona only approves programs in schools that have appropriate institutional accreditation and notes that many RN programs hold programmatic accreditation as well. However, the latter is not a requirement. Read more here: "Choosing an RN program in Arizona".
Approved programs can be found on the Board site: https://www.azbn.gov/education/programs/rn-lpn-programs. The Board also has a list of admission requirements for RN programs, though the listings may not be current and should be verified (https://www.azbn.gov/education/programs/rn-lpn-programs). Fingerprinting is often required for admission. Some programs include prerequisites, minimum GPA, drug testing and/or CPR certification among the requirements.
In order to be license qualifying, out-of-state programs must have a program code assigned by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and be equivalent to programs that are approved within the state. Excelsior education is acceptable provided it includes the required clinical course. (Candidates who were continuously enrolled as of September 1, 2006, though, will not need to provide the Arizona Board evidence of having taken this course.)
Candidates must apply to the Arizona BON and also register with Pearson, the company that administers the NCLEX-RN exam. Arizona requests that candidates download the NCLEX candidate bulletin from Pearson a month before graduation (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex). There is a $200 fee associated with testing. Arizona must confirm that fees have been paid before granting eligibility.
License applications may be requested or downloaded (https://www.azbn.gov/applications). There is a $300 application fee and a $50 fingerprinting fee, both due to the Arizona Board. Candidates educated in Arizona need a certificate of completion; other candidates need an official transcript that shows the qualifying degree.
Once authorized, a candidate can schedule an exam at their convenience within the testing window.
The Arizona Board does not place limits on the number of retakes. Candidates who fail the RN exam may also opt to take the PN exam – this requires a new application and fee, but no verification of program completion. It is also unnecessary to redo fingerprints if they have been done in the past two years.
Graduates who do not become licensed within two years must take a refresher course. The same goes for out-of-state nurses who have not practiced at least 960 hours during the previous five years (or obtained an advanced degree during this time period).
Nurses from other compact states must apply to Arizona if it is to become their primary state of residency. Applicants who are applying for licensure by endorsement pay a $150 application fee.
Candidates who were educated in foreign countries must demonstrate the educational equivalency of their programs. CGFNS Certification is an option for registered nurses. A CES Professional report or VisaScreen is also acceptable, as is license verification from one of several approved organizations. In the case of Canadian applicants, Arizona will accept evidence of licensure along with passing scores on the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination.
Foreign candidates also must demonstrate English proficiency unless they have met education or practice requirements in the language. Arizona considers that the clinical portion of the educational program was in English if English was the dominant language of the county or Canadian providence.
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