How to Become a Nurse in Rhode Island

Students interested in pursuing a career in nursing can choose from several accredited nursing schools in Rhode Island. Nursing is a broad term that includes several degrees, allowing individuals to pursue various careers as a nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), or advanced practice nurse (APN). LPNs in Rhode Island earn an average $27 an hour, while RNs and nurse practitioners (NPs) earn an average $36 and $52 per hour, respectively. As people live longer and the population continues to grow, the need for nurses of all backgrounds and educations in Rhode Island remains high.

How to Get a Nursing Assistant License in Rhode Island

Becoming a nursing assistant paves the way for individuals to embark on a career in healthcare. Nursing assistants apply their skills to assist patients with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Working under the supervision of an RN or LPN, they perform other duties such as preparing rooms for admission, transporting patients and acting as a liaison between patient and RN.

To receive a Rhode Island nursing assistant license, individuals must complete 120 hours of training from an approved nursing assistant training program. A list of board-approved nursing assistant training programs in Rhode Island can be found on the Department of Health website. Upon completion of their training program, individuals are required to complete a license application and submit it to the Rhode Island Department of Health. The Department of Health issues a temporary nursing assistant license once they receive and process the application.

Passing the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam is the final step to earning a nursing assistant license. This test consists of two parts: a written or oral portion and a skills demonstration portion. Individuals have three chances to pass the two parts.

A nursing assistant license must be renewed every two years. Individuals are required to provide proof of at least eight hours of employment as a nursing assistant during the previous 24 months. Those who fail to meet this requirement will need to retake the competency exam to reinstate their Rhode Island nursing license.

How to Get a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) License in Rhode Island

Individuals interested in pursuing a career as an LPN will work alongside RNs and physicians to provide hands-on care to patients with various medical conditions. LPNs take and record vital signs, assist doctors during certain medical procedures, clean wounds, monitor equipment, and perform numerous other duties as needed.

To receive a Rhode Island LPN license, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  • Provide proof of Rhode Island residency.
  • Apply to the Department of Attorney General for a national background check supported by fingerprints. For information on this process, visit their website.
  • Graduate from a board-approved LPN nursing program; have school forward transcripts to the Department of Health along with the date of graduation. Electronic transcripts are not acceptable.
  • Apply to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to take the NCLEX-PN examination by visiting its website. Once individuals apply to the NCSBN, they must wait for approval to take the test by the State of Rhode Island, pending approval of transcripts and other information. This exam evaluates the skills and knowledge in several vital areas of nursing pertaining to LPNs.

Rhode Island LPN licenses expire every two years. Nurses seeking to renew a nursing license must complete 10 continuing education hours prior to renewal; two of those hours must focus on substance abuse.

Continuing education courses must be approved by the Rhode Island Board of Registration and Nursing Education. At renewal, nurses must sign a statement attesting to completion of the continuing education requirements.

How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in Rhode Island

Graduates with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program are eligible to become licensed RNs in Rhode Island. There are currently almost 12,000 individuals who hold an active Rhode Island RN license. Those interested in joining this growing number of healthcare professionals can enjoy a fulfilling, life-long career providing hands-on care to patients.

There are several steps to getting a Rhode Island nursing license. According to the State of Rhode Island Department of Health, first-time licensees are required to:

  • Provide proof of Rhode Island residency.
  • Have official transcripts sent directly from the graduate’s school of nursing; must also include graduation date and degree received. Electronic transcripts are not acceptable.
  • Apply to the Department of Attorney General for a national background check supported by fingerprints. For information on this process, visit http://www.riag.state.ri.us/homeboxes/BackgroundChecks.php.
  • Apply to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to sit for the NCLEX examination by visiting its website. Once individuals apply to the NCSBN, they must wait for approval to take the test by the State of Rhode Island, pending approval of transcripts and other information.
  • Pass the NCLEX exam.

RN licenses are renewed every two years, and notices for renewal are sent 60 days prior to the expiration date. Nurses must complete 10 continuing education hours prior to renewal; two of those hours must be about substance abuse. Continuing education courses must be approved by the Rhode Island Board of Registration and Nursing Education. At renewal, nurses must sign a statement attesting to completion of the continuing education requirements. Licenses may be renewed online.

How to get an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) License in Rhode Island

An advanced practice nurse is an RN with a graduate degree (master’s degree or higher) in nursing. Working in close collaboration with physicians, APNs are partners and teammates in the delivery of medical care. They can diagnose, treat and prescribe medications and work in hospitals, clinical institutes and family health centers. APNs are nationally certified in a category or subspecialty. The Rhode Island Board of Nurse Registration and Nursing Education recognizes the following APN specialties: NP, Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). Individuals are required to become nationally certified in the area in which they wish to practice by the appropriate board-approved independent national certification agency.

To earn a Rhode Island advanced practice nurse license, individuals must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete licensure application.
  • Pay application fee.
  • Have an official transcript from the educational program submitted by the college/university, directly to the Board. The transcript must include date of completion and degree.
  • Submit a copy of active RN license in Rhode Island.
  • Submit letter of APN certification from a professional certifying organization.
  • Undergo a national criminal background check supported by fingerprints. This report must be sent directly from the Department of Attorney General to the Rhode Island Board of Nursing. For information on this process, visit their website.

APN licenses are renewed every two years and can be renewed online through the Rhode Island Department of Health Online Services page. Nurses must complete 10 continuing education hours prior to renewal; two of those hours must be about substance abuse. Continuing education courses must be approved by the Rhode Island Board of Registration and Nursing Education. Nurses must sign a statement attesting to completion of the continuing education requirements.

APNs certified in a specialty should be in contact with the appropriate national certification agency for requirements for recertification.