I will be graduating from an NLN-accredited school in Indiana in several weeks. I am moving to California shortly after graduation. I will not be a practicing RN in Indiana, nor do I need to be licensed here; I will be practicing in California. I would like to take the NCLEX before I move, but I need my RN license from California, not Indiana. Since I never have been licensed previously, I would prefer to avoid the complicated process of receiving an unneeded RN license in Indiana and then becoming licensed through endorsement in California. Is it possible to take the NCLEX in one state but receive your RN license from another state?
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Nancy Brent replies:
The response to your question is somewhat simple and yet not so simple. First of all, it is important for you to consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in the state in which you received your nursing education in order for him or her to help you strategize your interest in practicing in a state other than the one in which you attended your nursing program.
Generally, however, it is not possible to take the NCLEX-RN examination upon graduation in one state and have that successful result transferred as the sole basis for a license in another state. Each state has its own requirements concerning licensure, and although passing the NCLEX-RN is one of those requirements in each state, other requirements may differ. For example, educational requirements allowing one to sit for the NCLEX-NR or to obtain licensure in the state may vary.
Once you have obtained a license in a state, it is somewhat easier to obtain licensure in another state. This is particularly so if both states belong to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). However, as another example of prerequisites, the individual applying for licensure under the NLC must reside in a Compact state in order to be eligible for multi-state licensure. You can read about the Compact by going to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Website at http://www.ncsbn.org.
You can also review the states requirements where you want to practice (as well as in the state where you studied nursing) by visiting the state board of nursing website of that state. The website will list the requisites for sitting for the NCLEX-RN and subsequent licensure, including whether or not it is a member of the NLC. The website will also detail how one can obtain licensure by endorsement or through the NLC (if the initial state of licensure is a member of the Compact) after initial licensure.
Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.