How to Become a Nurse in Washington

In Washington, nursing licenses are awarded by the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. This organization is composed of 15 governor-appointed members, seven registered nurses (RNs), three licensed practical nurses (LPNs), three public members and two advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). Its goal is to ensure all applicants meet the minimum qualifications for licensure so there are consistent standards of practice across the state. Those interested in nursing can work toward three licenses: LPN, RN, or ARNP. Washington also offers a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) registration and certification that’s regulated by the Washington State Department of Health. All applicants need to complete a nursing program before they can be certified. By attending an accredited nursing school in Washington, students can rest assured their education meets nurse licensing requirements. With the demand for nurses in Washington increasing, and a projected demand for 89,186 RNs by 2031 (there were 55,070 RNs in 2011), it is clear that now is a great time to seek a Washington nursing license.

How to Get Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification in Washington

Candidates must attend a state-approved nursing assistant program in order to work as a CNA in Washington. This program must be at least 85 hours in length. If they desire, students who are currently enrolled in an RN or LPN program may also work as a CNA as long as they have met the minimum requirements. Once they’ve completed the educational requirements, CNA hopefuls must pass a competency exam that’s based on the CNA curriculum. Results for this exam will be sent directly to the Department of Health for verification.

If the professional is already a CNA in another state, they must provide a history of their training and professional work experience. Additionally, they must be able to verify that they were previously on a state Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Action registry.

For all applicants, seven hours of training in HIV/AIDS is required. This training is included in Washington CNA educational programs. The final step is to file an application, which costs $65.

Once an applicant has earned their Washington CNA certification, they must renew it annually. The due date for renewal is their birthday, and they must also submit a $70 renewal fee. There are no continuing education requirements.

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

To earn a Washington LPN license, applicants must begin by submitting to a fingerprint-based background check that will be conducted by both the FBI and the Washington State Patrol. Next, they will have to choose either licensure by examination (for new LPNs) or licensure by endorsement (for LPNs from another state). Both applications will ask about demographic information, personal data, professional education, and AIDS education and training. Applicants will need to submit an $85 fee along with their application.

Examination applicants must also provide a certificate of completion along with official transcripts from their nursing program in order to be eligible to take the NCLEX-PN exam. This exam costs $200 to complete and must be passed to earn a Washington nursing license.

Endorsement applicants must verify their original license by using NURSYS. If the nurse’s original licensure state does not use NURSYS, there is a separate form they must submit. For nurses who have a current license that’s in a different state than their original license, they must also submit proof of their current LPN license.

Once the Washington LPN license has been earned, it must be renewed annually on the LPN’s birthday by paying an $85 fee. LPNs must also complete 531 hours of active practice and 45 hours of continuing education every three years.

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

To earn a Washington RN license, there are two main application methods — examination and endorsement. An examination is the method for those who have just graduated from nursing school. This application will require them to complete a fingerprint-based background check through the FBI and Washington State Patrol.

Next, examination applicants will have to fill out the application, which includes questions on personal identifying information, professional education, and AIDS education and training. A $120 fee is required with the application. In addition to the application, students must submit a certificate of completion from a Washington nursing program or an out-of-state nursing program completion form. An official transcript that lists the earned degree is also required. Finally, applicants must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for RNs. This costs an additional $200.

Endorsement applicants must fill out the same application and background check information. Rather than submit their education verification, they must submit an RN license verification from the state of their original licensure by using the NURSYS website. If the state in which they are licensed does not use NURSYS, they must have their state’s board of nursing fill out a separate form. If the nurse’s current license is not from the state they were originally licensed in, they must show proof of their current active license.

Washington nursing licenses must be renewed every year. The renewal fee is $120 and is due on the nurse’s birthday. Nurses must complete 45 hours of continuing competency requirements on a three-year cycle to maintain their license.

How to Get an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) License in Washington

The highest Washington nursing license one can earn is the advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) license. All ARNPs must have an active RN license when applying; this can be renewed each year with the ARNP license. Prospective ARNPs have usually completed a master’s degree or higher in their desired nursing specialty. In addition to standard fingerprint-based background checks by the Washington State Patrol and FBI, ARNP hopefuls must also complete an application. This application requires basic demographic, personal information, professional education information and national certification information, including their specialty and certifying body. If the ARNP would like to be able to prescribe medications, they must also request prescriptive authority with a special form as well as provide proof of pharmacology education. Finally, an official school transcript is required, along with a $125 application fee.

Once the professional has earned their Washington ARNP license, they must renew it every two years by their birthday by paying a $125 fee. This process also involves sending in a copy of their recertification in their area of practice, a form that certifies at least 250 hours of independent clinical practice within the last two years and proof of 30 contact hours of continuing education credit. For those ARNPs with prescribing authority, they’ll also need to take 15 hours of pharmacology credits.