- RNs in California must satisfy educational, licensing and background checks.the nurse with a mask on face sits at a table image by Cosmic from Fotolia.com
A registered nurse (RN) is a health care professional who has graduated with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) from an approved nursing school and has acquired a practice license by passing a state exam, the National Council Licensure Examination in Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN). In California, the state Board of Registered Nursing issues regulations governing the practice of RNs, and therefore also the requirements for a nurse to qualify as an RN.
- RNs comprise the largest population of health care professionals in the United States. They are responsible for patient care and educating patients and their families or caregivers about patient care. Specialized RNs carry out specific tasks in surgical-medical nursing, psychiatric nursing or education, and additional requirements such as a Ph.D. (for nurse researchers) may be required. RNs also supervise other health care staff, such as nursing assistants, orderlies, licensed practice nurses and medical assistants. Outside her routine nursing care, an RN can also perform administrative, legal or management duties depending on her educational qualifications and work experience.
Educational Requirements for RNs
- All RNs undergo a 2-to-4-year college education and earn either an associate degree in nursing (2 to 3 years) or a bachelor of science degree in nursing (4 years). Individuals who hold a degree in another field, such as biology or physiotherapy, may complete a masters entry level program (1 to 2 years). Licensed practice/vocational nurses can take the California LVN 30 Unit Option and qualify as RNs, although they will not receive a college degree.
Licensing Requirements for RNs
- All RNs wishing to practice in California must take and pass the NCLEX-RN to be issued a license by the California State Board of Registered Nursing. In addition, they must pass criminal background checks and meet the minimum educational requirements.
Continuing Education Requirement
- Once qualified and licensed by the California State Board of Nursing, it is still necessary for the RN to complete 30 hours worth of continuing education courses. This condition must be satisfied for the RN to renew his license and remain active, and the course must be completed with a continuing education provider approved by the board.
Out-of-State, International, or Former RNs
- Out-of-State RNs can apply for licensing by endorsement if their license from a different state or Canada is current and active, they have the requisite educational qualifications and have passed either the NCLEX-RN or the State Board Test Pool Examination (SBTPE). The Canadian Comprehensive Examination is not recognized. If these requirements are not met, the nurse must pass the NCLEX-RN. International RNs must pass this exam and also have a U.S. Social Security Number for the Board of Nursing to issue a license. Former RNs can apply for renewal if they have completed 30 hours of continuing education, or have taken a nursing refresher course at a hospital or college.