The Montana Board of Nursing licenses practical nurses and registered nurses and sets regulations for their practice. The state currently has 16,876 RNs and 3,508 LPNs.
Montana is not a member of the nurse license compact, but nurses may be licensed by credentialing if they have met equivalent licensing requirements in another state. Residency in the state is not a requirement for Montana licensure; in fact, nurses who provide telephonic nursing to Montana patients must hold a state license.
Nurses who are seeking licensure for the first time must pass the NCLEX at the appropriate level (PN or RN). In 2012, Montana’s RN candidates had a pass rate of 92.43%, just above the national average of 90.34%. LPN candidates had a pass rate of 99.19%, well above the national average of 84.23%. LPN rates have been consistently above the national average for the past five years while RN rates have been more or less on a par. The Board releases the pass rates of individual schools: (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/nur_board/board_page.asp).
There are several organizations in the state that offer scholarship money. The Montana Nurses Association and the Darci Lynn Dengel Foundation are two sources. The MNA is also a resource for information about other sources of funding for nursing students. The Montana Health Care Association provides educational moneys to develop Montana’s long term care nursing workforce (http://www.mthealthcare.org).
In order to be eligible for the LPN license, a candidate must attend an approved nursing program. Montana’s approved LPN programs confer an associate of applied science degree – this is not the case in many states. (However, candidates who complete approved certificate programs are eligible for licensure.)
Read "Choosing an LPN Program in Montana" to gain a better understanding of the LPN program education requirements and process.
The license application can be found on the Board site. Click here to download the application. A $100 fee should be included with the application.
Candidates must also register for the NCLEX-PN. Signing up is a two-step process. The candidate registers and pays the $200 fee. Then the candidate waits for the ATT (authorization); this follows communication between Pearson and the Montana Board. At this point, the candidate can schedule a computer adapted exam. The exam is given in Montana in Billings and Helena, but candidates may schedule their exam in another state if they prefer. The Board will notify the exam taker, in writing, of the result.
A new graduate who is waiting to take the exam may be granted a temporary permit for an additional $25 fee. A graduate may not practice under a temporary permit more than 90 days. The candidate must work under direct supervision during this time; there is a form in the application packet that the supervisor must sign. In the event that the candidate fails the exam, the license will be invalidated three days after notification is mailed.
A candidate who needs to retake the exam must submit a retake application to the Board along with a $50 fee.
LPNs who already licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction may apply for licensure by credential. They must show that they met equivalent requirements to those that were in effect in Montana when they were first licensed. License verification is required from any state that the LPN has been licensed in in the past two years as well as from the state in which the candidate was originally licensed.
An out-of-state nurse who has not had disciplinary actions in the previous two years may be issued a temporary permit.
LPNs who have not passed a U.S. licensing exam will need to pass the NCLEX. A nurse who was educated in a foreign country needs to get a course by course evaluation from one of the organizations approved for this purpose: the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or the International Education Research Foundation. In many cases, an English proficiency exam will be required as well. Nurses educated in the following countries do not need to demonstrate English proficiency through testing: Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Tobago, Trinidad, or the UK. Canadian nurses do not need to unless their education was in Quebec. International nurses applying for license by examination will pay $100 (in addition to costs for examination and evaluation which are paid to other organizations); those with U.S. license who are applying by credentialing will pay $200 to the Montana Board.
In order to be eligible for an RN license, an individual must complete a board approved professional nursing program. Some of Montana’s programs confer an Associate of Science degree, some a Bachelor of Science. A list can be found on the Board site (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/nur_board/board_page.asp).
The Montana Board may allow students enrolled in CCNE- or NLNAC-accredited out-of-state programs to be placed in Montana health facilities to do their clinical work. However, such operations are subject to approval/ regulation.
"Choosing an RN Program in Montana" offers several additional resources to learn about selecting an appropriate professional nursing program.
The nursing graduate will need to apply to the Montana Board and submit registration to Pearson, the company that administers the NCLEX-RN (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex). Once the candidate receives authorization, the candidate will schedule – in Billings, Helena, or another state. A graduate applying for license by examination pays $100 to the Montana Board. This is in addition to the $200 that is paid directly to the testing company.
A new graduate who is scheduled for an exam may be granted a temporary permit which will allow to begin work. If the candidate does not pass the first examination attempt, this privilege will be revoked. Licenses may be verified online through ebiz.mt.gov/pol or nursys.com.
An RN who has already been licensed on the basis of an approved exam may apply for license by credentialing. The candidate will need to provide proof of licensure from the first state where the candidate was licensed and from any other state where the candidate has held a license in the previous two years.
A registered nurse applying for license by credentialing pays $200 to the Montana Board. International RNs who have not yet taken the NCLEX apply for license by examination. They must complete a qualifying exam through CGFNS before taking the NCLEX. They must also have their credentials professionally evaluated. An English proficiency exam will be required of those who do not come from one of the exempted countries.
Those who have passed the U.S. licensing exam and are applying by endorsement should still provide a copy of their course evaluation.
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