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What You Need to Know about Registered Nursing License

Registered Nurses (RNs) treat patients as well as provide educational advice and emotional support to the family members of their patients. They help administer treatment and medications, operate medical machinery, perform diagnostic tests, analyze test results, record symptoms and medical machinery, and assist with the overall patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

RNs may specialize in various areas of patient care. Generally, there are four ways to specialize:

  1. Perioperative nurses assist surgeons and work in operating rooms;
  2. Some nurses prefer to specialize in specific diseases, such as diabetes management nurses assist patients with diabetes;
  3. Others specialize in body system types or organs, like dermatology nurses helping patients manage skin disorders; and
  4. Several RNs choose to work with patients in a well-defined population, for example geriatric nurses work with the elderly.

Whatever specialization they select, nurses still need to pass a licensure exam to practice their profession. There are two licensure examinations in the United States developed by NCSBN (National Council of State Boards Nursing) – these are:

  1. NCLEX-PN (National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurses)
  2. NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses)

These examinations test the abilities, skills, and knowledge of candidates for an effective and safe nursing practice. When the students pass, they will acquire a license as LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) or LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) or RN (Registered Nurse).

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As a nonprofit organization, NCSBN is composed of members in Boards of Nursing coming from 50 states, United States territories (Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa) as well as the District of Columbia. NCLEX is administered by CAT (Computerized Adaptive Testing) through national testing service. It’s an examination method that uses measurement theory and computer technology wherein the computer randomly selects the unique items to test the ability level of the applicant. It may also be administered through the help of Pearson VUE (Virtual University Enterprises), which operates over 4,000 Authorized Testing Centers in more than 151 countries.

Acquiring an RN licensure in the U.S. does not guarantee success in the nursing practice. Nurses also need to develop core skills proficiency, maintain skills and competency, obtain advanced specialized certifications and skills, and comply with accreditation / regulatory standards. Furthermore, RNs need to meet the highest patient care quality that is known as the standard goal in the U.S. healthcare industry.