Delaware is a great state to work in as a nurse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurses earned an average annual salary of $70,660 in 2013, which is very high. For most, however, the profession is a calling and not about the money, although it does help. So how do you become a nurse in Delaware?
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
Becoming a nurse in Delaware is a three stage process.
STAGE 1. CHOOSE YOUR DEGREE PROGRAM.
You can become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) by completing a one year diploma program. Alternatively, you can become an RN (Registered Nurse) by completing a two year associate’s degree (ADN) or a four year bachelor’s degree (BSN). Most prospective nurses choose to become an RN, as this leads to greater job opportunities and salaries.
STAGE 2. MEET THE PREREQUISITES.
Usually, an LPN program only requires you to have completed high school or hold a GED. However, to take part in an ADN or BSN program, you will usually have to complete a number of undergraduate courses. The exact courses vary depending on the school, but generally include such subjects as statistics, math, English and biology.
STAGE 3. PASS THE APPLICABLE NCLEX EXAM.
The NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN examination will certify you as an LPN or RN, respectively. This is nationally recognized, which means you can transfer it between states.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
If you want to become an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) in Delaware, there are four stages you must be aware of.
STAGE 1. GAIN A GRADUATE EDUCATION AT MASTER’S LEVEL OR ABOVE.
The Board has also determined that graduates have completed either a recency requirement prior to license or a set number of practice hours. Additionally stipulations exist for those graduates who cannot be certified in their chosen specialty.
APNs in Delaware can apply for prescriptive authority. To do so, they must have completed courses in diagnosis and management of problems in their clinical specialty; advanced health assessment; advanced pathophysiology; and advanced pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics.
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) can focus on a specific area of population. This must be maintained through a recognized national certification. The specialties that are recognized include adult health, acute care, psychiatric/mental health, pediatric, family, emergency nursing, neonatal, geriatric, school health and women’s health.
It is also possible to apply for a temporary permit if you have graduated but are awaiting licensure. You cannot be granted prescriptive authority with a temporary permit. Additionally, you must work under supervision. Your temporary permit will last for 90 days.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED IN ONE OF THE FOUR AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION.
Each of these has specific requirements. They are:
- NP (Nurse Practitioner), who must hold a population focus.
- CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist), who must be specialized if certification exists in that specialization.
- CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife), who must be nationally certified.
- CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist), who must be nationally certified.
The national certification programs that are recognized by Delaware are:
• The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board) that recognizes the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
• The National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) that recognizes the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
• The AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) that recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP.
• The AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) that recognizes the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
• The NCC (National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties) that recognizes the Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) and the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP).
• The PNCB (Pediatric Nursing Certification Board that recognizes the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Acute Care and Primary Care.
STAGE 3. APPLY TO BE LICENSED AS AN APN.
This will require your social security number. There are possible exemptions, however. All APNs must complete the Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Nurse with supportive documentation and fees. When you file this application, you can also file your collaborative agreement, although you can also do this after you have been licensed. However, you are not allowed to practice until you have filed the Collaborative Agreement Information Form.
The Collaborative Agreement must be signed by a registered physician in order to give you prescriptive authority over both standard medicinal agents and controlled substances. You do not have to pay an additional fee for this application. You do, however, have to submit a Delaware Controlled Substance Registration (CSR) and register with the DEA if you want to prescribe controlled substances.
You can check the status of your APN application online.
You must also submit to a criminal history background check at both state and federal levels. You will need to make an appointment to have your fingerprints taken, which also comes with an additional fee.
STAGE 4. RENEW YOUR LICENSE TOGETHER WITH YOUR RN LICENSE.
This is done biannually in odd numbered years. This can happen three times per year, on February 28, May 31 or September 30. You will receive a renewal notice in the mail a few weeks before expiration and your license can be renewed online.
Your national certification agency will have their own requirements in terms of the number of practice hours just must take part in, and your continuous education (CE). You must meet these requirements in order to renew your license. Additionally, the Board has stated that you must gain at least 1,500 practice hours over the past five years in your own specialty, 600 of which must have been obtained in the past two years. CE requirements have only been set by the Board for those who have prescriptive authority and includes having to complete 10 CE hours in pharmacology in the past two years.
Delaware Board of Nursing
Division of Professional Regulation
Cannon Building, Suite 203
861 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, Delaware 19904