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Get To Know Why is it Recommended to Obtain a Registered Nurse (RN) License

March 26, 2023 · 8 min read

What is RN Licensure?

RN licensure refers to the process of obtaining a license to practice as a registered nurse (RN) in a particular state or jurisdiction. RN licensure is a legal requirement for RNs to provide healthcare services to patients and communities, and it ensures that nurses have met the educational and professional standards necessary to provide safe and competent care. The licensure process typically involves completing an approved nursing program, passing the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN), and meeting state-specific requirements such as continuing education and background checks. Maintaining an active RN license requires ongoing compliance with state regulations and renewing the license periodically.



The demand for RNs is projected to grow by 7% from 2019 to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education and Training Requirements for a RN Licensure

To become a registered nurse (RN), one must complete an educational program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

The educational requirements for RN licensure vary depending on the state and the educational institution. In general, RNs are required to have a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor's degree in nursing. Diploma programs typically take 2-3 years to complete, while associate and bachelor's degree programs take 2-4 years.

During their educational program, RNs receive both classroom instruction and clinical training in a variety of settings. This training includes courses in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, nursing ethics, and patient care. Clinical training includes supervised experiences in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings, allowing students to gain hands-on experience working with patients and practicing their nursing skills.


After completing their educational program, RNs must pass the NCLEX-RN, which is a national exam that assesses the individual's knowledge and skills in nursing. Passing the NCLEX-RN is required to obtain RN licensure and practice as a registered nurse.


Types of RN Licensure

The field of nursing offers a wide range of career opportunities for individuals with different levels of education and training. One of the most important requirements for practicing as a registered nurse (RN) is obtaining a valid RN licensure. However, there are several types of RN licensure, each with its own set of requirements and responsibilities. We will explore the different types of RN licensure and the education and training requirements necessary to obtain them.

There are several types of RN licensure that nurses can obtain, depending on their education and training:

  1. Registered Nurse (RN): This is the most common type of RN licensure. To become an RN, you must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
  2. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): LPNs have less education and training than RNs and are licensed to provide basic nursing care, such as taking vital signs and administering medications. LPNs must complete a state-approved practical nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
  3. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): APRNs have additional education and training beyond that of an RN, and are licensed to provide advanced nursing care. There are several types of APRNs, including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.
  4. Travel Nurse: A travel nurse is a licensed RN who works on a temporary basis in hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the country. Travel nurses typically work for staffing agencies and must have a current RN license.

State Licensure Requirements

To become a Registered Nurse (RN), you must obtain a state license. The requirements for RN licensure can vary by state, but generally include completing an accredited nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). In addition, some states may require additional education or exams, such as a jurisprudence exam that tests knowledge of state nursing laws and regulations. It's important to research the specific requirements for RN licensure in your state to ensure that you meet all necessary qualifications.

Did you know?

California has the highest number of RNs employed in the state, with over 330,000 licensed RNs, followed by Texas with over 222,000 licensed RNs, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing

Professional Organizations

Joining professional nursing organizations can provide RNs with a variety of benefits, including career development opportunities and support in meeting licensure requirements. These organizations offer resources such as continuing education courses, networking events, and mentorship programs that can help RNs stay up-to-date with the latest developments in nursing practice and advance their careers.

In addition, professional nursing organizations advocate for the nursing profession and promote policies that support the health and well-being of patients and communities. RNs who join these organizations can have a voice in shaping the future of nursing and influencing healthcare policies at the local, state, and national levels.

Membership in a professional nursing organization can also enhance an RN's credibility and demonstrate their commitment to the nursing profession. Some organizations offer certification programs that can provide RNs with a competitive edge in the job market and increase their earning potential.

Overall, joining a professional nursing organization can be a valuable investment for RNs who are committed to advancing their careers and making a positive impact in their profession and communities.


Legal and Ethical Issues

RN licensure carries legal and ethical responsibilities that registered nurses must uphold in their practice. Professional standards of practice guide RNs in providing safe, competent, and ethical care to their patients. RNs must adhere to the scope of practice defined by their state's Nurse Practice Act, which outlines the specific roles and responsibilities that RNs are authorized to perform. Any deviation from the scope of practice may result in disciplinary action or loss of licensure. Additionally, RNs must maintain patient confidentiality and privacy, obtain informed consent, and report any suspected abuse or neglect. Failure to adhere to these legal and ethical standards can result in disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of licensure. RNs should also be aware of their obligation to report any illegal or unethical behavior they observe in their workplace to the appropriate authorities. It is essential for RNs to remain current on legal and ethical issues related to their practice by participating in continuing education and seeking guidance from professional organizations and regulatory bodies.


Future Trends

Future trends in RN licensure include:

  1. Increasing Demand for RNs: With an aging population and a growing need for healthcare services, the demand for RNs is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. This is likely to create new opportunities for RNs, especially in areas such as primary care and long-term care.
  2. Role of Technology in Nursing Practice: Technology is rapidly changing the healthcare landscape, and RNs are increasingly using technology to improve patient care. For example, telehealth technologies are allowing RNs to provide remote care and monitor patients' health from a distance.
  3. Changes in Licensure Requirements: As healthcare continues to evolve, there may be changes in the licensure requirements for RNs. For example, there may be a greater emphasis on continuing education and certification or new requirements for RNs to demonstrate proficiency in certain areas of practice.
  4. Emphasis on Interprofessional Collaboration: As healthcare becomes more team-based, there is an increasing emphasis on interprofessional collaboration between RNs, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. This is likely to become even more important in the future, as healthcare organizations seek to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

Overall, RNs can expect to see significant changes in their profession in the coming years, driven by advances in technology, changes in healthcare delivery, and evolving patient needs. By staying abreast of these trends and continuing to develop their skills and knowledge, RNs can position themselves for success in this rapidly changing field.

  • RN licensure is required for registered nurses to practice in the United States.
  • Education and training requirements for RN licensure include completing an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • There are different types of RN licensure, including RN, LPN, APRN, and travel nurse, each with varying education and training requirements.
  • State licensure requirements may vary, and it is important for RNs to stay up-to-date with changes in licensure regulations.
  • Joining professional nursing organizations can provide RNs with resources for career development and support.
  • Legal and ethical issues related to RN licensure include professional standards of practice, scope of practice, and disciplinary action for misconduct.
  • Future trends in RN licensure include the increasing demand for RNs, the role of technology in nursing practice, and potential changes in licensure requirements.


What is the basic requirement to become a Registered Nurse (RN)?

To become an RN, one must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

What is the difference between a Registered Nurse (RN) and a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)?

The main difference between an RN and an LPN is the level of education and training required. RNs have completed an accredited nursing program and passed the NCLEX-RN, while LPNs have completed a state-approved practical nursing program and passed the NCLEX-PN.

What is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)?

An APRN is a licensed nurse who has additional education and training beyond that of an RN, and is licensed to provide advanced nursing care. This includes nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.

What is the scope of practice for RNs?

The scope of practice for RNs includes assessing and diagnosing patients, administering medications and treatments, collaborating with healthcare teams, and providing patient education and support.

How can professional organizations support RNs in their career development and licensure requirements?

Professional nursing organizations can provide networking opportunities, continuing education courses, advocacy for the nursing profession, and resources for licensure and certification requirements.

by Olena Kukhtyk

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