Colorado nurses are licensed by the Department of Regulatory Agency’s Board of Nursing (www.dora.colorado.gov/professions/nursing). There are currently 64,057 RNs with active licenses and 8,557 PNs.
Nurses may be licensed by exam or by endorsement. First time candidates for licensure must pass the NCLEX exam – this is a nationwide requirement. Prospective students may wish to consider NCLEX pass rates when making educational decisions. Colorado lists them by school; this information can be found in the nursing education section of the website by clicking here.
Colorado is a member of the nurse license compact, so nurses living in other compact states (for example, the bordering states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nebraska) won’t need to get a Colorado license just because they take a position there. If they move to the state, though, this changes. An LPN working in Colorado under a license from another compact state must also apply to the Colorado Board if the candidate wants/ needs IV authority. Nurses with licenses in non-compact states like Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma aren’t authorized to work in Colorado without getting a new license.
There are separate professional organizations within the state for LPNs and RNs. RNs may wish to join the Colorado Nurses Association. New graduates can look for career resources; students can look on the site for information about scholarships offered within the state (http://www.coloradonurses.org/scholarships/). LPNs, meanwhile, may seek out the Colorado Federation of LPNs.
Prospective LPNs should complete state approved programs in practical nursing. Read "Choosing an LPN Program in Colorado" to get some advice on selecting an appropriate program. Graduates need to apply to the board in order to receive authorization to take the NCLEX-PN. Applications may be requested or downloaded here. Included in the application packet is an affidavit; the candidate must sign that the candidate is lawfully present in the U.S. (if the candidate is indeed in the U.S.). An official transcript should also be included. The application packet lists the fee as $88. This is subject to change on an annual basis (in July).
The candidate must also complete a Healthcare Professions Profile. The candidate should wait a few days after application to allow data to be entered before the candidate tries to go online and complete the profile. It may take a little longer. If the applicant is unable to complete this step and it has been two weeks since the candidate submitted the application, the candidate should contact the program.
From the time application information is first logged, candidates will be able to check application status at the following address: www.dora.colorado.gov/professions/onlineservices.
Exam registration is an essential step. Candidates may call Pearson or register online at http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex. The current exam fee is $200. Candidates may make up to three attempts at the NCLEX-PN. The attempts should be made within a three year period.
The LPN license does not automatically grant IV authority. This is something that an LPN must apply for separately. The Board has a list of approved IV programs. The IV application fee is $45.
Out-of-state LPNs may be licensed by endorsement if they meet all requirements. They will need to get verification from the state where they were originally licensed. If the state is listed with nursys.com, this can be done online. Otherwise, the nurse should use the form included in the endorsement application packet.
A nurse may make a request to work under a temporary permit while completing the licensing process. This permit is only issued to those who have active licenses and whose answers to background screening questions do not indicate issues that could impact eligibility.
Some out-of-state candidates will need to take a refresher course. This applies to those who do not have a license that is current or recent or who have not practiced nursing or taken the NCLEX-PN in the preceding two years. The Board has a list of LPN refresher courses available in the state. While enrolled, the applicant will do unpaid clinical experience; the candidate will be issued a restricted license for this purpose. The candidate will need to have the preceptor fill out a skills checklist before the candidate can get the standard license.
An LPN who completed IV training in another state should get transcripts and course descriptions from the training; the candidate should also secure a competency checklist from a former instructor or RN supervisor.
Nurses who are not licensed in a U.S. state or territory should apply for license by examination. There are some steps to complete first. Candidates need to get a Healthcare Profession and Science Report – this determines if they have met equivalent requirements. Foreign nurses from countries where English is not the dominant language will need to demonstrate English competency. Unless exempt, they will need to have a CGFNS language proficiency report.
RN candidates should enroll in board approved programs in professional nursing. Check out "Choosing an RN Program in Colorado" for additional information and advice on selecting an appropriate program. After graduation, they will need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. It is necessary to apply to the Colorado Board for the privilege of taking the exam. Application packets can be found on the Board site. Click here to download the application. The candidate must attach official transcripts. The candidate must also include a nonrefundable $88 application fee.
The candidate should also register with Pearson (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex/). Once the Colorado Board determines eligibility, the candidate will be granted an Authorization to Test. The candidate will need to wait at least a few days after application for information to be entered into the database; then the candidate can create the required Healthcare Professions Profile.
The Board allows candidates a maximum of three examination attempts. Attempts in other jurisdictions count toward the total.
RNs who have already taken the NCLEX-RN and been licensed in another jurisdiction should apply for license by endorsement. There is a $43 fee. They will need to provide license verification from the initial state of licensure. There is a separate application packet for endorsement candidates. Questions ask whether the candidate currently holds a license or has held one in the past two years, whether the candidate has practiced nursing in the past two years, and whether the candidate has taken a refresher course. Some candidates will need to submit a competency form. They may also be required to take a board approved refresher course. Candidates who hold current licensing and answer “no” to the screening questions (indicating that they don’t have a legal or disciplinary history and don’t have conditions that would impede safe practice) may request temporary permits. This will allow them to work in the state before all the paperwork goes through.
A past conviction or disciplinary proceeding does not always result in denial of licensure. It does mean that the board will need to give careful consideration to the circumstances.
International RNs should first get a healthcare professions report, then apply to the Colorado Board to take the NCLEX-RN. Those from non-English speaking parts of the world will also need to pass an English exam through CGFNS; they should get an English language proficiency exam report.
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