There are several important organizations that Hawaii’s prospective nurses will want to be aware of. The first is the nursing board (http://hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl/boards/nursing/) which is a part of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The board evaluates the qualifications of LPNs and RNs and issues licenses. As of February 2013, Hawaii has 21,006 RNs with active licenses and 2,661 LPNs with active licenses.
Although Hawaii is not a nurse compact state, there are multiple paths to licensure. RNs and LPNs can be licensed by examination or endorsement. There are alternative pathways for LPNs; they are sometimes licensed after completing part of the coursework in a registered nursing program.
Hawaii’s nursing board is also charged with making rules and ensuring compliance. Nurses are responsible for knowing the statutes and rules found in Chapter 89 (http://hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl/pvl/har/har_89-c.pdf).
Another important state organization is the Hawaii State Center for Nursing. This is a workforce center that collects data about the nursing workforce – the main goal is to ensure that Hawaii’s health needs are met. This means implementing programs that attract and retain qualified nurses. The HawaiiStateCenterNRC.org, meanwhile, has the stated goal of streamlining student clinical placement. One thing that students can do is access documents regarding clinical placement in different state facilities.
Also of interest are the state’s professional organizations. The Hawaii Nurses Association (http://www.hawaiinurses.org/) has been supporting the state’s nurses since 1917. The Hawaii Student Nurses Association (http://www.hawaiistudentnurses.org/) has chapters at Hawaii’s eight nursing schools.
A prospective LPN should enroll in a practical nursing program that is accredited by the National League of Nursing or state approved. Currently there are four practical nursing programs located in Hawaii: in Hilo, Honolulu, Kahului, and Lihue.
Programs completed in the armed forces are sometimes acceptable as well. A candidate who received education in the military will need to submit transcripts and course descriptions plus a certified letter from the Board of the state where the program is physically located. The letter must state that the program is equivalent to an accredited one.
A student who has completed coursework in an RN program that is deemed equivalent to that required of an LPN may apply for LPN licensure (whether or not the candidate is currently enrolled or had to stop the education). The candidate will need to take the NCLEX-PN examination. When the candidate completes program requirements, the candidate may mail or deliver the application along with a $40 fee. Click here to download the application. A transcript or letter verifying program completion should arrive separately. (An official transcript is required before licensing, but not necessarily before exam authorization. Sometimes a letter is quicker.)
Once the Board had determined eligibility, the candidate will be mailed a bulletin with directions about registering for the NCLEX-PN (https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm). Candidates should be prepared to pay $200 for the exam. It is computer adapted and scheduled on an ongoing basis. The Authorization to Test (ATT) grants an eligibility window.
The nursing board mails NCLEX results approximately two weeks after the candidate tests. A candidate who passes will be responsible for paying the licensing fee. A candidate who fails a NCLEX-PN attempt may retake the exam after waiting the minimum time stipulated by the testing company.
If a candidate fails to show evidence that the candidate is working toward meeting requirements, the application will be closed after two years.
Nurses who are licensed by exam in other U.S. jurisdictions are eligible for licensure by endorsement. (If a candidate graduates from a state-approved program in another state and passes the NCLEX exam there, but wants to work in Hawaii, the candidate needs to complete the process in that other state and then be licensed in Hawaii by endorsement.)
An out-of-state nurse may be eligible to work under a temporary permit while completing the licensing process in Hawaii. The candidate must provide proof that the candidate is licensed and that the candidate has requested official license verification from the board; however, the temporary permit may be issued before the official verification has arrived.
International nurses may be licensed by exam. They should have their credentials evaluated by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Programs. There are two options. They may go through the certification program which includes two tests and a credential review, or they may have a course by course report which does not include examination.
A candidate for RN should enroll in a professional nursing program that is nationally accredited or state approved. The state has four ADN programs: located in Hilo, Honolulu, Kahului, and Lihue. There are five BSN programs: three in Honolulu and one each in Hilo and Kaneohe. Diploma programs and master’s entry programs are also acceptable. The Board notes that programs completed in the armed forces are generally not found to be equivalent to RN programs.
As graduation looms, the candidate should request an application or download it from the site of the Hawaii Board (http://hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl/boards/nursing/application_publications). The candidate will need to verify that the candidate has completed the educational requirements. The candidate will also need to submit a $40 application fee.
The Board notes that candidates previously licensed as LPNs should make sure all required documents are included with the RN application – the Board does not make copies from the previous application file.
An approved candidate will be sent a bulletin which details the process of registering for the NCLEX-RN. There is a $200 fee for examination. The candidate will wait to receive the ATT (Authorization to Test), then schedule an exam.
A candidate may retake the examination if necessary. It is important, though, that the candidate not let two years go by without either attempting the exam or providing some communication to the Board that the candidate still intends to complete the licensing process. Applications are closed after two years of inactivity, though a candidate may initiate the process anew. Examination is typically the last – or almost the last – step in the licensing process. The successful candidate does still need to pay a licensing fee.
A newly graduated/ licensed RN may receive support to help make the transition into professional practice. The Hawaii Nurse Residency Program is in force at eight facilities. This includes large medical centers like the Queen’s Medical Center.
Graduates of accredited nursing programs in other jurisdictions may be eligible for licensure by endorsement. They will need to provide license verification either though an official document (with seal) or online at nursys.com. Candidates who have already taken an acceptable licensing exam (NCLEX or SBTPE) will not be required to do so again.
International candidates must have equivalency evaluated though the CGFNP. They are responsible for taking the NCLEX. Canadian nurses who took the SBTPE may be exempted from the NCLEX requirement.
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