The State of Delaware Board of Nursing issues licenses to LPNs and RNs. There are separate procedures for licensure by examination and licensure by endorsement. The state currently boasts 19,390 nurses. That's 16,401 RNs and 2,989 LPNs.
Delaware is a member of the Nurse Compact. A nurse licensed in another compact state does not need to get a new license unless the candidate establishes residency in Delaware. Licensing can be tricky for nurses who live and work in different states, but Delaware has put together a list of frequently asked questions (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/compactstate.shtml).
As in all states, Delaware nurses are required to pass the NCLEX. The 2012 Delaware NCLEX pass rate for registered nurses is 86.46 (compared to a national average of 90.22). For Delaware’s practical nurses, the rate is 71.58 (compared to a national average of 83.99). Pass rates for individual schools can be found on the Board site (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/passrates.shtml) NCLEX results from prior years are also available.
If for some reason, a graduate does not take the NCLEX within 24 months of graduation, the candidate will be required to take a NCLEX review course.
The Delaware Nurses Association (http://www.denurses.org) is a separate entity from the licensing agency, but provides additional resources for nurses.
A prospective LPN should enroll in a board approved practical nursing program that includes at least 200 hours of clinical practice. Completion of high school or equivalency is a prerequisite requirement. A list of programs that have approval is available on the site of the Delaware BON.
Delaware does not authorize candidates who have completed professional (registered) nursing programs to test at the LPN level. Learn more about choosing an LPN program and to see a list of approved LPN programs check out the article: "LPN Programs in Delaware".
A candidate must make two applications: one to the Delaware Board of Nursing (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/exam.shtml) and one to the organization that administers the NCLEX-PN, a nationwide competency exam for practical nurses (http://www.vue.com/nclex/). Graduates are generally expected to apply within a year of program completion. Otherwise, a petition to test is required.
A criminal background check is among the requirements. An official transcript is also required, but a candidate does not necessarily have to have it at the onset; the candidate may be granted a temporary permit with documentation from the program.
A candidate who requests a temporary permit must wait to receive a number before beginning work. If the candidate graduated from a program approved by the board in another state and is going through the examination process there, the process will be similar in many ways; however, the candidate will turn in the application as an endorsement candidate.
The temporary permit authorizes a nurse to work in a specific setting. It is valid for up to 90 days.
There is a $124 application fee and a $35 fee for the temporary permit (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/fees.shtml).
A candidate who does not pass on a first attempt may continue to take NCLEX exam over the next five years. However, the candidate is not allowed to work as a nurse until such time as the candidate passes. If the candidate has been granted a temporary license, it will become invalid. There is a 45 day wait period between exams.
Practical nurses who are licensed in other jurisdictions may apply for license by examination or license by endorsement, depending on whether they have already passed the required exam.
If an LPN has not been in active nursing practice during the preceding five years and has not completed a refresher course during the preceding two, the candidate will be obligated to enroll in one. If there is not a program available, the Board may allow the candidate to display continuing competency through alternate means. Currently, there is one LPN refresher course in the state, at Delaware Technical and Community College.
Endorsement candidates may be granted temporary permits if they meet continuing competency and experience requirements.
Nurses licensed in other countries must get a certificate through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. If there are deficiencies, they must be made up. If a foreign educated nurse cannot verify that the candidate has graduated from high school, the candidate should take the GRE. Required documents must be translated.
In some instances, examinations taken by Canadian nurses will be accepted, and the NCLEX will not be required. This applies only to nurses who have been in practice a while. Canadian nurses who took the CNATS after it switched to pass-fail in 1996 will be required to take the NCLEX.
A prospective RN should enroll in an approved professional nursing program that includes at least 400 hours of clinical experience. Find a list of RN programs in Delaware as well as some tips on choosing an appropriate programs here: "RN Programs in Delaware"
As graduation approaches, the student may get a licensing application from the program or from the site of the Delaware Board (http://dpr.delaware.gov/boards/nursing/forms.shtml). The candidate must authorize a criminal background check. After the degree posts, the candidate should have an official transcript sent to the Board. The application must be filled out in its entirety, notarized, and sent to the Board office with a $124 fee and a copy of the applicant’s driver’s license or ID. The candidate will also register with the testing company (http://www.vue.com/nclex/); the candidate will hold off on actually scheduling an exam until the candidate receives an authorization to test.
When the candidate passes, the Delaware Board will do a final review and, if everything is in order, issue a license. If the candidate does not pass the exam, however, the candidate will need to apply for re-examination. The Delaware Board charges $20 for processing.
The licensure process typically takes a month or two, but new graduates are eligible to work under interim permits. Temporary permits are issued for 90 days. Unlike the standard, permanent license, the temporary permit qualifies an RN to work only in Delaware.
Nursing graduates must pass the NCLEX within five years of graduation. They are generally expected to do so within one year. Those who do not apply within 12 months of graduation must submit a petition to be permitted to test. Those who do not apply within 24 months must take a NCLEX review.
An applicant who has previously worked as a nurse should send an employer reference form to the most recent employer. If an employer returns the form without making performance comments (because it is against some policy), the Board will contact the applicant to provide a copy of a recent work evaluation.
Candidates must also get license verification from the state they were initially licensed. Depending on the state in question, this will be done via a written form or online at www.nursys.com. The candidate may visit the website of the Delaware site to see a list of states that utilize Nursys. A photocopy of the current license should be included with the application as well.
Candidates should verify recent experience (1,000 hours in the previous five years or 400 in the previous two). Otherwise, a refresher may be required. The refresher course will be at least 120 hours (40 of theory and 80 of practice).
Candidates with active licenses should use the endorsement application form. Unless a candidate graduated from a program within the previous two years, the candidate will be expected to list continuing education on the form.
The endorsement process can take 4 to 6 weeks, but out-of-state RNs who have job offers in Delaware may be issued temporary permits. The results of the criminal background check do need to be in before the permit can be issued.
International nurses should use the application for license by examination. They should get a certificate from CGFNS to evaluate/ validate their education.
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