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Nursing License Requirements in Florida: Becoming a Nurse in Florida

The Florida Board of Nursing is celebrating its first 100 years in 2013. One of the main tasks of the Florida BON is licensing nurses: both LPNS and RNs. Those who complete education and other requirements within Florida apply by examination. The same goes for those who were educated elsewhere but have not yet taken the NCLEX exam. Nurses who have been licensed in another jurisdiction on the basis of examination may apply by endorsement. Florida currently has 260,117 registered nurses and 72,829 practical nurses.

Florida is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact.

The Board sets rules for licensing and practice. Information does change from time to time. A candidate can go to the Board site to sign up for email updates.

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The Florida BON is also charged with approving nursing programs. In order to maintain approval status, a program must have an adequate NCLEX pass rate. Florida defines this as being no lower than 10% below the national average, whatever that may be. If a program falls below this standard two years running, its status is lowered to probationary. Florida publishes NCLEX pass rates by school on a quarterly basis (http://www.floridasnursing.gov/education-and-training-programs/). Prospective students who want to view pass rates over a longer time period can visiting the Florida Department of Health site (http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/MQANEPC/SearchCriteria.aspx).

The Florida Nurses Association is an additional resource for nurses. Prospective nurses can visit the FNA site to see a list of things to consider when selecting an educational program. The Florida Nurses Foundation is under the FNA banner and can be a resource for scholarships.

LPN Requirements in Florida

LPN Education Requirements

Prospective LPNs should enroll in programs that have been approved by the Florida Board or some other acceptable organization. Practical nursing programs accredited by the ACEN (formerly NLNAC) are acceptable as are those accredited by other state boards. Education completed in the military will qualify a candidate for licensure if the program was assigned a NCLEX code. Read "Choosing an LPN Program in Florida" to gain a better understanding of the LPN program education requirements and process.

A student who begins a professional nursing program at a higher level may be licensed as an LPN if the coursework he or the candidate completed is equivalent to what they would have done in an LPN program. The equivalency route is called PNEQ.

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LPN Application Process and the NCLEX-PN

Whatever the educational background, a candidate will need to take and pass the NCLEX-PN. Before a candidate can be authorized to test, they will need to have their fingerprints taken and submit a license application to the Florida Board. Fingerprints are now done electronically, through Livescan. The applicant can create an account and apply online (http://www.floridasnursing.gov/licensing/licensed-practical-nurse-registered-nurse-by-examination/). Click Here for the Online LPN Application Form. The applicant will also need to register with the testing vendor, Pearson (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex).

Applicants need to pay $175 to the Board of Nursing. This covers application processing and initial licensure. The fee for fingerprinting will vary, depending on what vendor is selected. $200 is paid to the testing company. Computer adapted exams are scheduled on an ongoing basis at sites around the country.

If the applicant passes the NCLEX-PN, they can expect their license to be issued within about a week to a week and a half. If the applicant doesn’t pass, they will need to apply for re-examination. There is a separate application form for this purpose. A candidate is allowed up to three exam attempts before the candidate is required to complete an approved remedial program.

Out of State LPNs Seeking Licensure

LPNs who are licensed in other jurisdictions will need to provide verification of their licenses. Those who have already taken the NCLEX will not need to retake it. With few exceptions, candidates will need to take the NCLEX if they were licensed based on passing some other exam. California used a state specific licensing exam during certain years in the past. The Florida Board does accept this test. However, Canadian LPNs must apply by examination – the Florida Board does not accept Canadian licensing exams at this level of licensing.

RN License Requirements in Florida

RN Education Requirements

A prospective RN should enroll in a professional nursing program that is approved and/or accredited by the Florida Board of Nursing. Florida has an approval process for nursing programs that operate within its borders, as do other states. Additionally, two accrediting agencies, the ACEN (formerly NLNAC) and CCNE, offer program level accreditation. "Choosing an RN Program in Florida" offers several additional resources to learn about selecting an appropriate professional nursing program.

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The NCLEX-RN and Application Process

Candidates are required to take a licensing exam after they complete educational requirements. Before a candidate can be authorized to take the exam, the candidate must apply to the Florida Board. Applications can be found on the “resources” section of the Board site (http://www.floridasnursing.gov/licensing/licensed-practical-nurse-registered-nurse-by-examination/). Click Here for the Online RN Application Form.

Fingerprinting is a required step in the licensure process. Florida uses Livescan, an electronic process. Candidates should make sure they have the right Originating Agency Identification (ORI) so that the prints will be received by the Florida Board. Fees for fingerprinting may vary. A candidate will submit the application with a $175 combined application and licensing fee.

Once Florida has reviewed the application, the candidate will be given instructions about registering for the NCLEX exam through Pearson VUE. The examination process will necessitate another $200 fee.

If a candidate does not pass the exam after three attempts, that candidate will need to take an approved remedial program.

Out of State Applicants for Registered Nursing Licensure in Florida

Applicants already licensed in a U.S. state or territory may apply by endorsement (http://www.floridasnursing.gov/licensing/licensed-practical-nurse-registered-nurse-by-endorsement/). They must submit license verification from their current state of licensing as well as from the initial state (if different). There is a $175 fee for application and initial licensure. Fees for fingerprinting may vary (as will the fee the home state charges for license verification.

Military spouses may apply for temporary licensure (http://www.floridasnursing.gov/medical-licensing-for-military-members-and-spouses/). They have the same requirements, but a lesser fee. In addition to the standard documents, they must submit military orders and proof of marriage. They must also establish that they are in good standing in the state or territory where they hold licensing.

Candidates from other countries or from U.S. territories that are not under the jurisdiction of the NCSBN must apply to take the NCLEX exam. Canadian RNs who took the CNATS before August 8, 1995 may be exempted. They may use the application packet for license by endorsement.

Candidates outside the jurisdiction of the NCSBN are also responsible for having their education evaluated (http://www.floridasnursing.gov/forms/licensure-info-edu-outside-us.pdf). They should be aware that the process could take several months. If the nursing coursework was not completed in English, English competency must be demonstrated via another route. Florida accepts several English language exams and several types of educational program as evidence of competency. If a person has taken a college course for credit in the U.S., they are considered English proficient.

Resources

Florida Board of Nursing

Florida Nurses Association

Florida Nurses Foundation

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