Becoming a Nurse in Virginia
The Virginia Board of Nursing (VBN) operates as part of the Virginia Department of Health Professions. They are 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. The board has approved 33 pre-licensure nursing programs in Virginia, along with even more associate (ADN), bachelor's (BSN), and master's (MSN) degree programs at Virginia nursing schools.
There are more than 180,000 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.
How To Get CNA Certification in Virginia
The VBN uses the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) to qualify its CNAs.This is an examination developed by the company, Pearson VUE, and it's offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
Before applicants can register for the exam, they must first complete an approved CNA training program and submit an application to Credentia, the nurse aide credentialing services the VBN uses for CNAs. There is no application fee for an initial CNA license. Applicants must also submit a fingerprint card and criminal background check through Fieldprint, which costs $35.95 for Virginia residents and $38.95 for non-Virginia residents.
Once the official transcripts, the application, and associated fees are submitted, candidates applying for a Virginia CNA license must sit for the NNAAP before the board considers their application. Both the registration for this industry-standard exam and the application can be completed on Pearson VUE's website. Applicants must take the skills evaluation and either the written or oral examination. The total fee for the NNAAP is $94. There are approximately two dozen testing locations in Virginia where students can sit for the NNAAP test.
Certification can also be obtained by CNAs who qualify via endorsement. This is appropriate for CNAs who have already passed the Nurse Aide exam and have been certified in another state. For these candidates, the application process can be completed entirely online on the board's website. Candidates attempting to obtain an Advanced Nurse Aide certification by endorsement should also follow the same procedure.
CNA Certification Renewal
A Virginia CNA certification is valid for two years. Renewal can be completed on the board's website, and applicants are required to pay a $30 fee. The renewal process is generally accessible 45 days prior to a certification's expiration.
How To Get an 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 LPNs must obtain a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) administered by the NCSBN 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.
Applicants must submit an LPN application online, along with a fingerprint card and criminal background check through Fieldprint. The application fee for an initial LPN license is $170.
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 VBN. Candidates who have obtained their licenses in another country or whose education was not through a Virginia-approved program should contact the board prior to applying.
LPN License Renewal
To keep the license active, LPNs must complete 400 hours of direct client care every two years. The biennial renewal fee is $120, which includes another $40 for late renewals or $300 after suspension or license revocation. Applications can be submitted directly on the state's website, and the renewal period begins 45 days prior to license expiration.
How To Get an RN License in Virginia
There are three ways to apply for a Virginia RN license. The first option is to determine whether an applicant 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 NCLEX-RN, which is administered by the NCSBN. 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 apply. These candidates are advised to contact the board directly prior to applying.
Applicants must submit official transcripts for their nursing program, the application itself, and the associated fees. The application fee for a RN license is $190, and the required fingerprint card and criminal background check through Fieldprint. All RN applications must be submitted on the nursing board's website.
RN License Renewal
Once obtained, a Virginia RN license is valid for two years. To keep the license active, RNs must complete 500 hours of direct client care biannually. Applicants can complete licensure renewal online for a fee of $140, beginning 45 days prior to a license's expiration date.
How To Get an APRN License in Virginia
To earn a Virginia APRN license, candidates must first have a valid Virginia RN license. Aspiring APRNs must decide which type of advanced nursing they wish to practice in the state. The VBN considers APRNs, certified nurse midwives (CNMs), and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to be nurse practitioners (NPs). The VBN also offers certifications for prescriptive authority.
Applications for these specialized nursing licenses should be submitted directly to the VBN. There are two ways to qualify for licensure: examination and endorsement. The state of Virginia recognizes nurse practitioner examinations, which are conducted by both the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB), among others. This application form also requires candidates to provide official college transcripts. Candidates for licensure by endorsement must submit verification of their current professional certification.
For applicants who apply by examination, a valid VA registered nursing license (or compact nursing license) is required, along with the online application and proof of certification that's consistent with the RN’s area of focus. This certification can only come from the VBN’s approved agencies.
There are three ways that NPs can prove their competency to the board:
First, NPs can submit a transcript or letter from an education program that offers a graduate course in pharmacology or pharmacotherapeutics. This course must show completion within the last five years.
The second way is to provide an authorized statement asserting that the NP has completed 1,000 hours of active practice in the past two years. They must also show proof that they’ve completed 15 hours of continued education.
The final way is to provide transcripts that show the NP has taken 30 hours within the last five years, which includes applicable federal and state laws, prescription writing, drug selection, dosage, route and interactions, information resources, and clinical application related to the area of practice.
APRN License Renewal
Advanced practice licenses in Virginia are valid for two years. Renewals must be submitted online. Licensed nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and other APRNs should expect to pay $80 when applying for renewal, with an additional fee of $35 necessary to keep their prescriptive authority current.