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Nursing License Requirements in PA: Become a Nurse in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing licenses registered and practical nurses. As of 3/31/2013, there were 211,944 RNs and 56, 407 LPNs.

Pennsylvania is not a member of the nurse licensure compact. Nurses licensed in other states may apply by endorsement. New graduates take the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN.

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In the most recent reporting period (October 2011 through September 2012), Pennsylvania RN candidates had a pass rate of 90.77% -- just above the national average. PN candidates had a pass rate of 90.03% -- well above the national average of 83.99%.

The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is a professional organization. It is not an official agency and is not involved with the licensing process. The PSNA does host NCLEX-RN review sessions ()

Nursing Scholarship in Pennsylvania

Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania, meanwhile, offers scholarships to LPN and RN students. (http://www.nightingaleawards.org/scholarships/).

LPN Requirements in Pennsylvania

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Education

In order to be licensed as a practical nurse in Pennsylvania, a person must complete an approved program.

There are several factors to consider prior to selecting a practical nursing program. The article, LPN programs in Pennsylvania, will help you better understand these factors during your LPN program selection process.

Students who are enrolled in professional (RN level) programs can not be licensed. A list of approved programs can be found on the site of the Pennsylvania State Board (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/).

Applying for Licensure

A graduate is eligible to work under a temporary permit while waiting to take the exam. The Board notes that a permit can be issued about 14 business days after receipt of the following items: a complete application form (found at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_board_of_nursing/12515/licensure_information), evidence of program completion, applicable fees, plus any other documents that may be required based on the candidate's individual circumstances. (Out-of-state candidates will need official transcripts, and some candidates will be required to furnish official documents related to issues in their background.)

An in-state LPN candidate applying for license by examination pays $35 for the privilege of taking the exam and $35 for the temporary permit. An out-of-state candidate for license by examination pays an additional $100.

Pennsylvania participates in Pearson's quick results program. For a small fee (about $8) a candidate can receive unofficial test results in an expedited manner.

The Pennsylvania Association of Practical Nursing Administrators is an organization that has the stated goal of advancing the practical nursing profession within Pennsylvania (http://www.pa-pna.org/index.php).

LPN by Endorsement

A candidate who has full active licensure in another state may apply by endorsement. The candidate will pay $100 to the Board. The candidate may be issued a temporary permit to allow the candidate to get started sooner -- there is an additional $35 fee. (Fees are per the most recent application -- candidates should make sure they have the current one.)

Pennsylvania requires LPNs who do IV therapy to complete a Pennsylvania-approved IV therapy course.

A candidate should use the endorsement by examination form if the candidate was licensed in a U.S. state or territory that was not using the NCLEX or state pool at the time of licensure or if the candidate was licensed in Canada without taking either of the allowable exams. The candidate should remit a fee of $135 to the Pennsylvania Board with the application -- or $170 if the candidate wants to begin work sooner under a temporary permit. The permit is good for up to a year.

An examination candidate who was educated in a non-English nursing program in Canada or a U.S. territory should also submit English proficiency exam results. The Board notes that English proficiency results are valid for two years. Transcripts must be translated to English and certified for accuracy.

A candidate who was originally licensed in Canada or Puerto Rico but later passed the required exam in another U.S. jurisdiction should get license verification from the state where the candidate passed (as well as from the state where the candidate was first licensed).

RN License Requirements in Pennsylvania

Education

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In order to be licensed as a registered nurse, a candidate must graduate from an approved program. There are plenty of in-state options at the diploma, associate's, and baccalaureate levels.

Read the "RN Programs in Pennsylvania" article to learn about factors to consider when choosing a Registered Nursing program.

A list of approved programs can be found on the Board site (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/).

The Application Process

A graduate will turn in an application to the Board (http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_board_of_nursing/licensure_information/forms). The graduate temporary practice permit can be issued to graduates of in-state or out-of-state programs, but only if they apply within a year of graduation; it cannot be issued to a candidate who has attempted the NCLEX previously in any jurisdiction.

Graduates of Pennsylvania programs may apply online. Graduates of out-of-state programs must use the paper application. Additionally, they must provide transcripts. In the case of in-state programs, verification of completion will be sent from the program.

An RN graduate pays $35 to have their materials processed and to have the exam eligibility determined, and another $35 for the temporary permit if the candidate requires one. There is an extra $100 fee for out of state graduates. (This is separate from the $200 fee that the candidate must remit to the testing company.)

There are several sections of questions on the application about disciplinary and criminal history.

The Board notes that there can be delays at different points along the way. They don't know, for example, how much time will pass before the school sends verification of completion; there will be additional processing time afterwards, and errors can slow the process. If a candidate has job prospects at graduation, the graduate should still set the start date at least four to six weeks in the future.

While working under the temporary permit, the graduate must be under the direct supervision of an experienced Pennsylvania RN.

Examinees can expect to receive official results sometime in the 2 - 30 day range -- again, there can be delays. Pearson Vue does have a service where (for an additional $7.95 fee) a candidate can receive unofficial results sooner. This doesn't mean the examinee will get a permanent license sooner -- it will just mean the candidate will know the status.

A candidate who does not pass can expect to receive diagnostic material to help them prepare for their next attempt. Pennsylvania does not place restrictions on the number of examination attempts; the standard around the country, though, is that candidates must wait 45 days between attempts.

The re-examination candidate will need to re-apply and remit additional fees.

Out-of-State and International RNs

Out-of-state RNs may be licensed without examination if they have already passed an acceptable one. (If not, they will apply for license by endorsement with exam.)

An internationally educated RN who has not yet taken the NCLEX and been licensed in another US jurisdiction should apply first for CGNFS certification. After the RN is certified, they may apply to the Pennsylvania Board, using the Application for Licensure by Endorsement with Exam for Internationally Educated Registered Nurses form. The RN will also register with Pearson at this time (http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex).

Even if the candidate has since been licensed on the basis of exam in another state, the RN should provide educational evaluation. If the RN wants to begin work under a TPP (temporary permit), the RN should provide English proficiency scores as well.

Professional and Student Nursing Associations in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing

Pennsylvania State Nurses Association

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