Nursing is an incredibly interesting field of work with a very high demand. It is possible to gain entry into the nursing workforce in just one year by completing a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program in Colorado, and you can grow from there. There are different entry pathways to the profession, each with different requirements and different benefits.
If you are interested in becoming a nurse in Colorado, you will need to apply through their state board of registered nursing. The Board is the state governmental agency that is responsible for implementing and enforcing all of the laws pertaining to nurse education, licensure, practice and discipline.
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
STAGE 1. MEET ALL THE NECESSARY PREREQUISITES.
Generally speaking, whether you go for an LPN diploma, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s program, the school will have a number of prerequisites. These include courses in topics such as physiology, chemistry and English. Each program will have different requirements. The LPN programs usually accept high school graduates, but those going for associate’s or bachelor’s programs will have to complete a number of undergraduate credit hours.
STAGE 2. COMPLETE YOUR EDUCATION.
If you choose an LPN program, it should take you just one year to complete and you will learn things about nursing skills on a psychological and physiological perspective.
If you want to become a registered nurse (RN), you will have to complete either a two year associate’s degree (ADN) program, or a four year bachelor’s (BSN) degree. Although this takes an additional two years to complete, you will also gain a lot more in-depth knowledge and you will be able to apply for better paid jobs with more responsibilities.
STAGE 3. BECOME CERTIFIED.
If you have completed the LPN program, you can take the NCLEX-PN examination. Those with an ADN or BSN can take the NCLEX-RN examination. Pass rates for Colorado students are above 85%.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
The Colorado Board of Nursing regulates all nursing professionals in the state. They have also determined how to become an advanced practice nurse (APN) in the state.
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE THAT IS APPROVED BY THE BOARD.
In order for a program to be approved, it must meet these requirements. The program must also be accredited by an organization that is known by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and/or the United States Department of Education. The bodies currently recognized are the CCNE, NLNAC, COA, the Accreditation Council for Midwifery Education, the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health Council on Accreditation.
Additionally, the Board has determined that all APN programs must be graduate or post-graduate. Additionally, it must focus either on a specific role or on a certain population demographic. The scope of acceptable programs can be very wide ranging.
APNs in Colorado can apply for prescriptive authority. To do so, they must first complete 3 semester hours at graduate level in pathophysiology, pharmacology and physical assessment. Additionally, they must develop an Articulated Plan and take part in a preceptorship and mentorship of no less than 1,800 hours.
Colorado recognizes both Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs). Each can specialize in Acute Care, Family, Adult, Neonatal, Gerontology, Psychiatric/Mental Health, Pediatric and Women’s Health. As an APN you can choose to specialize in any or all of these areas.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED.
There are four types of APNs. Certification is done through national agencies, and these will have their own requirements in terms of how many practice hours and continuing education (CE) you need. The four categories of APNs are:
- NP (Nurse Practitioner)
- CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife)
- CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist)
- CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist)
The program must be recognized by one of the organizations recognized by the Board. These are:
- The ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center), who recognize Adult Nurse Practitioners, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP), Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner PNP) and the Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).
- The AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners), which recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP.
- The AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses, which recognizes the pediatric critical care CNS, the adult critical care CNS and the neonatal critical care CNS.
- The NCC (National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties), which recognizes the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) and the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP).
- The National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Nurses (NCBPNP/N), which recognizes the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP).
- The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board), which recognizes the certified nurse midwife (CNM).
- The National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), who recognize the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
STAGE 3. GAIN ADVANCED PRACTICE REGISTRATION.
In order to apply for an APN license in Colorado, you must provide your social security number. If you are not in the United States, or if you have a student visa or some other reason for not have a social security number, you can submit a Social Security Number Affidavit instead.
Specific requirements exists for different APNs. For a nurse practitioner, you must complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Nurse Practitioner. As a CNM, you must complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Certified Nurse Midwife. The application for a CRNA is the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Finally, for the CNS, it is the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Clinical Nurse Specialist. Each of these applications must include various types of documentation.
Licenses are verified through the ALISON system. The state no longer sends out paper copies of licenses. However, you can request a paper copy if you so wish.
As an APN in Colorado, you can apply for prescriptive authority through the Application for Prescriptive Authority-Advanced Practice Nurse. You must put in a separate application for each patient population that you will prescribe to. Additionally, you must complete a number of official forms as well.
STAGE 4. RENEW YOUR APN REGISTRATION.
This must be done biannually together with your RN license and, if applicable, your prescriptive authority. You can verify your status online.
The Board itself does not have CE requirements for RNs or APNs. However, your national certification agency is likely to have requirements and it is their guidelines that you must follow. If you wish to renew your APN license, you must have an active national certification. You will receive a reminder when your license is due to expire and once you renew it, you will receive a written confirmation of this.
Colorado Board of Nursing
1560 Broadway, Suite 1350, Denver, CO 80202
(303) 894-7800 – Phone
(303) 894-7693 – Fax