Nursing Licensure – Entry-Level Certifications

Regardless of what career level you’re aiming for as a professional nurse one thing remains the same: you’ll need a license to practice. The essential nursing licenses issued by each state board of nursing are either RN or LPN licenses. Graduate or post grad nurses may build up auxiliary skills and earn their stripes in innovative care specialties, but the fundamental nursing competencies are most necessary from the outset.

  • Student nursing grads with an Associates degree or Bachelors degree in Nursing will take the licensure exam for their RN license. This is the NCLEX-RN exam.
  • Student nursing grads with a Practical Nursing certificate will take the licensure exam for their LPN license, or the NCLEX-PN exam.

There are also licensure exams available for nursing assistants and medical aides.

Yes there are plenty of other types of nursing certification exams:

  • CRNA Certification exam
  • Pain Management Nurse Certification
  • Cardio Nurse Certification
  • Med-Surg Nursing Certification
  • and many more covering nearly the gamut of nursing niche specialties.

However rigorous and hard-won these academic/skills tests, they don’t take the place of a nurse’s RN licensure.

The NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Exam, is developed and administered through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). This is the national organization that unifies and generally provides leadership to the state boards of nursing. Without legislative guidance and national standards of nursing practice, educational parameters, and licensure regulations, nursing as a practice would be akin to the Wild West.

The ultimate goal of undergraduate nursing schools is to prepare students to successfully pass the NCLEX test. In fact any school that can honestly advertise 100% or close pass rate on the NCLEX is doing something very right. Really most nursing programs prepare you above and beyond the requirements of the NCLEX.

So how do you prepare for the NCLEX?

The resources are quite expansive and include a variety of review textbooks, test guides, review courses, crash-sessions, and boot camps. Some nursing schools even offer whole courses that aim to prepare you for the NCLEX.

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