How to Become a Nurse in Virginia

The Virginia Board of Nursing operates as part of the Virginia Department of Health Professions and is responsible for licensing all nursing professionals in the state. This includes registered nurses (RNs), certified nurse aides (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The board also awards advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licenses for roles such as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists.

There are more than 225,000 nursing professionals working in the state, and Virginia’s healthcare system is supported by some of the best universities and hospitals in the country. In addition to working in clinical settings such as hospitals and physicians’ offices, nurses in Virginia can also enter the field of nursing research or work with government agencies. The board has approved a total of 271 nursing programs in Virginia. Students can earn an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree at these nursing schools in Virginia.

How to Get Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) Certification in Virginia

The Virginia Board of Nursing uses the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) to qualify its certified nurse aides. This is an examination developed by the company Pearson VUE, and candidates applying for a Virginia CNA license must sit for this exam before their application will be considered by the board. Both the registration for this industry-standard exam and the application can be completed on Pearson VUE’s website. CNA candidates can expect to pay anywhere from $45 to $120 to apply, depending on the version of the NNAAP they take. There are approximately two dozen testing locations in Virginia where students can sit for the NNAAP test.

Certification can also be obtained by certified nurse aides who qualify by endorsement. This is appropriate for CNAs who have already passed the Nurse Aide exam and who have been certified in another state. For these candidates, the application process can be completed entirely online by visiting the Virginia Board of Nursing website. Candidates attempting to obtain an Advanced Nurse Aide certification by endorsement should also follow the same procedure.

A Virginia CNA certification is valid for two years. Renewal can be completed on the board’s website, and applicants will be required to pay a $30 fee. The renewal process is generally accessible 45 days prior to certification expiration.

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

Nursing candidates can earn a Virginia LPN license in one of two ways. First, there is licensure by examination. Similar to registered nurses in the state, prospective licensed practical nurses must obtain a passing score on the NCLEX-PN examination before they will be eligible to apply. They must also be able to demonstrate that they have graduated from a state-approved nursing education program. Candidates whose nursing education was not provided by a state-approved school should contact the board to verify eligibility prior to applying.

A Virginia nursing license can also be granted to candidates who qualify for licensure by endorsement. To be eligible, an aspiring nurse must have graduated from an approved nursing program and have already obtained a license from another state. When these criteria have been met, LPN candidates can apply directly with the Virginia Board of Nursing. Candidates who have obtained their licenses in another country or whose education was not in a Virginia-approved program should contact the board prior to applying.

Applicants considering either type of application should be prepared to submit to a fingerprint-based criminal background check. A Virginia LPN license is required to be renewed every two years, and the renewal fee is $120. Applications can be submitted directly on the state’s website, and the renewal period begins 45 days prior to license expiration.

How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in Virginia

There are three ways to apply for a Virginia nursing license. The first option is to determine whether one is eligible for licensure by endorsement. This is applicable to nurses who have graduated from an approved nursing program and who have been previously licensed in another state. Licensure by endorsement may also apply to nurses who have earned their licenses in another country, as long as they are able to demonstrate evidence of an appropriate credentials evaluation.

The second way to obtain a Virginia RN license is to apply for licensure by examination. Prospective nurses who have graduated from a state-approved nursing program must receive a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). For graduates whose nursing programs did not provide 500 hours of direct client care, or whose nursing programs are not specifically approved by the state, some additional documentation may be required to be considered for licensure. These candidates are advised to contact the board directly prior to applying.

A third path to licensure exists for registered nurses who are already licensed in a state participating in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) program. This is a multi-state initiative that recognizes shared standards of practice and allows nurses to work across many states with a single license. For a multi-state license to remain valid, a nurse must ensure they are currently licensed in their primary state of residence.

All RN applications must be submitted on the nursing board’s website. These applications require candidates for RN licensure to undergo a fingerprint-based criminal background check. Once obtained, a Virginia RN license is valid for two years. Renewal can be completed online for a fee of $140, beginning 45 days prior to a license’s expiration date.

How to Get an Advanced Practice Registered (APRN) Nurse License in Virginia

To earn a Virginia APRN license, candidates must start by acquiring a valid registered nurse license. When this requirement has been met, an individual must decide which type of advanced nursing he or she wishes to practice in the state. The Virginia Board of Nursing recognizes nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists.

Applications for these specialized nursing licenses should be submitted directly to the nursing board. There are two ways to qualify for licensure: examination and endorsement. The state of Virginia recognizes nurse practitioner examinations conducted by both the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board. This form of application also requires candidates to provide official college transcripts. Candidates for licensure by endorsement must submit verification of their current professional certification.

In addition to a Virginia nursing license, advanced nurses must submit a separate application to obtain the authority to prescribe medication. This application can also be submitted directly to the nursing board. Prerequisites include active professional certification, completion of a graduate-level pharmacology course, 1,000 hours as a nurse practitioner and 15 continuing education credits. In some cases, these continuing education credits can be substituted for 30 contact hours in a formal academic environment.

Advanced practice licenses in Virginia are valid for two years. Renewals must be submitted online. Licensed nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and other advanced practice registered nurses should expect to pay $80 when applying for renewal, with an additional fee of $35 necessary to keep their prescriptive authority current.