How to Become a Nurse in Wisconsin

Students interested in pursuing a career in nursing have the opportunity to find job stability in Wisconsin due to the critical need for skilled nurses in the state. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development projects the need for over 5000 new registered nursing positions by 2024. And according to statistics compiled by the Wisconsin Health Workforce Data Collaborative, the RN supply to demand gap in Wisconsin is predicted to be 27 percent by 2030. Individuals graduating from one of the accredited nursing programs in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to go on to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), or an advanced practice nurse (APN). There are several accredited nursing schools in Wisconsin that can provide individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in these fields.

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

Certified nurse aides provide essential hands-on care to patients, including bathing, feeding, dressing wounds, repositioning and turning patients and more. Working under the supervision of RNs and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), they help provide dignified care to patients.

To be eligible to work in Wisconsin, all CNAs must first complete a CNA training program that has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Health and the Division of Quality Assurance. Approved nurse aide training programs provide students with comprehensive instruction on the requirements to work in all types of licensed health care facilities (nursing homes, home health agencies, hospices and hospitals).

To be certified and placed on the Wisconsin Nurse Aide Registry, an individual must take and pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam within one year of completing their training program. This test consists of two parts: a written or oral portion and a skills demonstration portion.

CNA certification is renewed every 24 months; to maintain eligibility to work in a federally-certified nursing home, intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities, home health agency or hospice, federal regulations require a nurse aide to:

  • Work at least eight hours in a 24-month period
  • Be in a paid position providing hands-on care, and
  • Be under the supervision of an RN or LPN

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

There are approximately 7,900 licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in the state who provide a range of medical care to patients. Working alongside RNs and doctors, LPNs perform an array of duties — from taking vital signs and inserting catheters, to assisting with tests and procedures. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Nursing Board regulates LPN licensure in the state.

Individuals applying for a Wisconsin LPN license must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). This exam evaluates an individual’s knowledge and skill in several areas, including health promotion and maintenance, safe effective care environment, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.

Individuals are required to register for the exam online. Before sitting for the examination, an applicant may receive a temporary permit. Completion of a temporary permit form and payment of $10.00 are required to receive a permit.

Other requirements for becoming an LPN include:

LPN licenses expire on April 30 of odd-numbered years; renewal can be done online.

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

Registered nurses (RNs) are tasked with a range of responsibilities, including administering medications, monitoring sick patients, assisting during medical procedures and even managing other nurses. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Nursing Board regulates RN licensure in the state. Graduating from a nursing program that has been approved by the nursing board is the first step to becoming a licensed RN. RNs in Wisconsin must hold an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited program.

After graduating from an accredited nursing program, individuals must take the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN). Individuals are responsible for registering online to take the exam. They must also have a Statement of Graduation form submitted directly to the Board by their Board-approved school.

Before sitting for the examination, an applicant may receive a temporary permit. To receive a permit, individuals must meet all requirements, submit an application form and pay a $10.00 fee. The temporary permit allows the applicant to practice under the direct supervision of a registered nurse for a period of up to three months. A temporary permit is valid for a period of three months or until the holder receives notification of failing the NCLEX, whichever occurs first.

Other requirements for receiving a Wisconsin RN license include:

RN licenses expire on February 28 or 29 of even-numbered years; licenses can be renewed online.

How to Get an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) License in Wisconsin

An advanced practice nurse (APN) is a registered nurse who holds a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited program approved by the Board of Nursing. An APN in Wisconsin must receive national certification in one of the following specialties: nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. APNs are eligible in the state to be certified as an advanced practice nurse prescriber; this gives them the authority to prescribe medications and medical devices.

To receive initial certification as an advanced practice nurse prescriber, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Submit an application form and fee
  • Provide evidence of holding a current license to practice as a professional nurse
  • Provide evidence of current certification by a national certifying body as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse−midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist
  • Provide evidence of a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing or a related health field
  • Provide evidence of completion of 45 contact hours in clinical pharmacology or therapeutics within five years preceding the application for a certificate
  • Provide evidence of passing an examination for advanced practice nurse prescribers

Advanced practice nurse prescriber licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered years. Sixteen contact hours in clinical pharmacology or therapeutics, relevant to the advanced practice nurse prescriber's area of practice, including two hours in responsible prescribing of controlled substances, are required for renewal. In addition, individuals must provide evidence of current certification by a national certifying body as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse−midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist.