How to Become a Nurse in West Virginia
West Virginia is currently experiencing a shortage of nurses, creating opportunity for those interested in beginning a career in healthcare. A main contributing factor to the shortage is the aging baby boomer generation; as people live longer and require more care, the need for qualified nurses is at an all-time high. There’s also a new wave of trained nurses nearing retirement age who’ll be leaving the workforce.
Nursing can be an extremely varied career, with numerous specialties available for individuals to pursue. Upon graduation from one of the accredited nursing programs offered in West Virginia, students can study to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Individuals holding a nursing license or certification can expect to earn approximately $36,770 as a licensed practical nurse, $61,780 as a registered nurse and $100,690 as a nurse practitioner.
How to Get Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification in West Virginia
Certified nursing assistants work under the supervision of an RN or licensed practical nurse to perform a range of hands-on duties. From bathing, dressing, repositioning and turning patients, to acting as a liaison between patients and RNs, CNAs play a vital role in patient care. CNA certificates are issued and regulated by the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification (OHFLAC). To be eligible to work as a CNA in West Virginia, individuals must meet the following requirements:
- Complete 120 hours of an OHFLAC-approved nurse aide training program; (at least 55 of the 120 hours must be instructor supervised clinical practice. The remaining hours must be classroom instruction and skills development in the classroom laboratory).
- Submit to a criminal background check.
- Pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) examination, within 24 months of graduation from an education program. The test consists of both written (computer-based) and skills performance components. Individuals must register to take the test, and have three opportunities to pass the competency evaluation.
After passing the exam, candidates will be registered in the West Virginia Nurse Aide registry. CNAs are required to renew their certification every two years, and must work eight hours or more as a nurse aide during the two-year period before the expiration date. Renewals can be done online, through the OHFLAC website.
How to Get a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) License in West Virginia
There are currently approximately 5,860 licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the state, and the demand for more is high. LPNs work closely with RNs and doctors to provide day-to-day care for patients. Duties include keeping detailed patient records, assisting doctors during procedures, collecting specimens , helping patients with bathing and dressing, and much more. The West Virginia State Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses issues and regulates licensure of LPNs.
Earning a West Virginia LPN license begins with graduating from a Board-approved practical nursing program. A list of approved LPN programs can be found on the Board’s website. Upon graduation from an LPN program, individuals can apply to the Board for the licensure exam through the online Nurse Portal. Paper applications for licensure are no longer available.
Candidates must also schedule an appointment with IdentoGo to undergo a fingerprinting background check.
LPNs are required to renew their licenses every two years. They must complete 24 contact hours of continuing education and engage in 400 clock hours of LPN practice in each two-year reporting period. Reporting occurs on the even years.
How to Get a Registered (RN) License in West Virginia
There are approximately 20,400 registered nurses in the state, working in various healthcare settings to care for the mental and physical well-being of their patients. They’re tasked with wide-ranging responsibilities, from administering medications, to monitoring sick patients, to educating patients about their treatment options.
To earn a West Virginia RN license, individuals must first graduate with an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program. They must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). Before taking the exam, individuals must apply (and be approved) to sit for the exam. Submitting to a West Virginia state and federal background check is another requirement for licensure.
RN licenses are renewed each year. The renewal period begins September 1, and licenses must be renewed by October 31 or the license will lapse. Twelve contact hours from a continuing education provider that’s been approved by the West Virginia RN Board is required to renew annually.
How to Get an Advanced Practice Nurse License in West Virginia
An advanced practice nurse (APRN) is a registered nurse who has acquired advanced clinical knowledge and skills by completing a graduate-level education program (master’s or higher) from an accredited program approved by the West Virginia Nursing Board. APRNs provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services, including taking health histories, diagnosing and treating, prescribing medications and performing physical examinations.
APRNs are trained in one of four roles: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist. 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.
Individuals may also obtain limited prescriptive authority (the ability to prescribe medications) by completing additional requirements specific to pharmacology training such as completing an advanced pharmacology graduate course with 45 pharmacology contact hours and completion of 15 advanced pharmacology contact hours within 2 years prior to the initial application.
The final steps to receiving a West Virginia advanced practice nurse license include completing a licensure application, submitting fingerprints for a criminal background check, and sending other information (sealed transcripts, verification of RN license, etc.) to the Board. Specific information can be found on the Board’s website.
All APRN licenses and prescriptive privileges expire June 30 of every odd year. Individuals must have an active RN license to renew their APRN license. If their RN license has lapsed, then their APRN license becomes inactive. APRNs must complete 12 hours of pharmacotherapeutics and 12 hours of clinical management practice each license renewal period. They must provide evidence of continuing education as well as current certification in their specialty.