Ask a Nurse: In Which States Can I Endorse My Nursing License From Puerto Rico?
In our Ask a Nurse series, experienced nurses provide an insider look at the nursing profession by answering your questions about nursing careers, degrees, and resources.
Question: I have an RN license from Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory. I'm wondering, in which U.S. states can I endorse my license?
Answer: Interested in moving to the mainland? Well, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is that it is definitely possible to transfer your nursing license from Puerto Rico, but the bad news is that it may require some extra work on your part, depending on where you want to move.
Endorsement of a nursing license involves transferring your license from one jurisdiction to another. If the major requirements for licensure (usually getting fingerprinted, having attended an eligible nursing program, and receiving a passing grade on the NCLEX or National Council Licensure Examination) have already been met, they most likely do not need to be repeated. All that is required is filling out an application and ensuring that your information is sent over correctly.
However, the major issue with endorsing a license from Puerto Rico appears to be the NCLEX exam, which isn't required for practice in the territory. All nurses who wish to practice in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico) will need to take this exam before being eligible for work as an RN.
The only exception is Florida. In 2002, lawmakers passed legislation allowing nurses from U.S. territories to apply for full endorsement — without taking the NCLEX — as long as they have at least two years of recent work experience without any disciplinary action against their license. Nurses who do not have this work experience need to take the NCLEX or obtain that experience before applying for endorsement.
The first step to planning such a move is researching the state you wish to obtain licensure in. Check in with the state Board of Nursing for their requirements and obtain an Authorization to Test (ATT) for the NCLEX. Make sure to give yourself lots of time to study and take the test.
Another vital resource for foreign nurses looking to practice in the U.S is the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). Even though Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, some states require candidates to use the CGFNS Credentials Evaluation Service as part of the application process. The good news is that the CGFNS exam generally can be waived for nurses coming from Puerto Rico, but it is important to verify all requirements for yourself before starting the application process.
Endorsing your license in the U.S. requires some advance planning and potentially a good amount of studying for the NCLEX exam.
Researching the requirements of the state where you want to move is a good place to start.
If you're not set on a specific state, Florida is a great option due to their flexible endorsement options — provided that you have the necessary work experience.
Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who started on a general medical/surgical care unit and then moved to infertility care, where she worked for almost 10 years. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students. Galan currently works as a full-time freelancer and recently earned her master’s degree in nursing education from Capella University.
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