Becoming a Nurse in Washington, D.C.
You have several options for becoming a nurse in the District of Columbia. The D.C. Board of Nursing regulates licensure for each type of nurse in the district, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). The board also licenses certified nurse aides (CNAs).
As with most areas, Washington, D.C. lacks qualified nurses. The district's nurses have advocated for improved working conditions because the staffing crisis has led to overwork, with too many patients for each worker. There may be plenty of opportunities in the area once you graduate with a nursing degree, but keep the potential conditions in mind.
Each type of nurse and assistant has specific educational and testing requirements. These requirements always involve earning an approved or accredited diploma or degree in nursing. Candidates may also need to pass the relevant version of the National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX) or prove that they're already licensed in another area (licensure by endorsement).
To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below:
Nursing Degrees by State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
How To Get Certified Nurse Aide Certification in Washington, D.C.
CNAs working under the supervision of RNs and LPNs to provide essential hands-on care to patients. Their duties include bathing, feeding, dressing wounds, and repositioning patients. CNAs also observe and report the conditions and changes relating to their patients' physical and mental well-being.
CNA hopefuls can apply for the Nurse Aide Registry once they complete an approved 120-hour CNA training program. The training includes 45 hours of classroom instruction, 30 hours of clinical laboratory practicums, and 45 hours of nursing home practicums.
Taking and passing the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam is the next step to receiving Washington, D.C., certification. The test must be taken within 24 months of completing a training program. This test consists of two parts: a written or oral portion and a skills demonstration portion.
Finally, applicants must pass a criminal background check.
CNA certification is renewed between September and October in every odd-numbered year. To qualify, individuals must work eight hours or more as a paid CNA during the two-year period before renewal.
How To Get a Licensed Practical Nurse License in Washington, D.C.
LPNs collect patients' health information and assist with tests and procedures. Passing the NCLEX-PN is the first step toward LPN licensure in the District of Columbia. This exam evaluates an individual's knowledge and skills in health promotion and maintenance, safe and effective care environments, and psychosocial physiological integrity.
Other requirements for becoming a Washington, D.C. LPN include the following:
Undergoing a criminal background check that includes fingerprinting
Requesting official transcripts (with seal) to be sent to the nursing board
Paying applicable fees
Submit proof of an LPN license in good standing from one of the U.S. states (endorsement candidates only)
LPN licenses expire on June 30 of odd-numbered years. Individuals must complete 18 contact hours of continuing education every two years to renew.
How To Get a Registered Nurse License in Washington, D.C.
RNs perform a huge variety of tasks to help physicians care for patients. They must hold an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college to receive a license in Washington, D.C.
After graduating, licensure-by-examination candidates need to pass the NCLEX-RN. Licensure-by-endorsement candidates must show proof that they already hold an RN license elsewhere. Both type of applicants also have to complete a criminal background check, submit official transcripts from their college, and pay any applicable fees.
District of Columbia RN licenses expire on June 30 of even-numbered years. Renewal notices are mailed three months prior to the expiration date. Individuals must complete 24 contact hours of continuing education prior to renewing their license.
How To Get an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse License in Washington, D.C.
APRNs hold accredited Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees and have years of experience in the field. APRNs in the District of Columbia can be licensed in one of four roles: certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), nurse practitioner (NP), certified nurse midwife (CNM), or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). Each type of APRN can prescribe medication in the District of Columbia.
Applicants must take the following steps to receive initial certification as an APRN:
Submit an application form and fee payment
Provide evidence of holding a current license to practice as an RN
Give evidence of current nursing certification by a national certifying body
Submit official transcripts direct from their graduate institution
Complete a criminal background check (individuals who have completed a state or FBI criminal background check for licensure in another jurisdiction within the last four years don't require an additional background check)
Register for a prescriber number with the Drug Enforcement Administration
Non-CRNA APRNs may be able to apply for the authority to prescribe medications
Washington, D.C. APRN licenses expire on June 30 of even-numbered years. Renewal applicants must demonstrate that they've completed at least 24 continuing education hours, with at least 15 of those hours featuring a pharmacology component.
Experienced RNs may want to read our OnlineU's APRN resources, including How To Become a Nurse Anesthetist, Guide to Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees, and 2023 Best Online Nurse Practitioner Degree Programs.
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