Florida is a popular retirement state, which means there is a particular need for nurses. This need is likely to grow exponentially over the next few years. If you are interested in becoming a nurse in Florida, 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. CHOOSE WHICH ENTRY LEVEL METHOD YOU PREFER.
You can become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), which is a diploma program, or an RN (Registered Nurse), which you can achieve through an associate’s degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN). Florida offers over 160 different undergraduate and graduate nursing school options.
STAGE 2. COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS.
Usually, whether going for an LPN or RN degree option, at least 15 credit hours in sciences and arts, including English, biology, math and psychology will be required.
STAGE 3. COMPLETE YOUR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM.
An LPN diploma usually takes 1 year to complete. An ADN program generally takes 2 years, and a BSN program takes 4 years. The higher your degree, the better your job prospects, salary and responsibilities.
STAGE 4. PASS YOUR EXAMINATION.
An LPN can take the NCLEX-PN examination, whereas an RN will take the NCLEX-RN examination. Some 90% of applicants pass these examinations, which is above the national average.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
To become an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) in Florida, you must complete the following steps:
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE.
This must be at master’s or post-master’s level, unless you graduated before October 1, 1998. The Florida Board of Nursing itself doesn’t regulated nursing programs. Rather, the program must be recognized and accredited by either the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The degree program must also include an advanced pharmacotherapeutics or pharmacology course. You can specialize in general nursing, or opt for a specialization area.
All Florida ARNPs who have taken the required pharmacotherapeutics/pharmacology requirements will be granted prescriptive authority. However, they may not prescribe controlled substances..
Once you are registered as an ARNP, your license will not include your specialization. However, you can choose a specialization within your graduate degree including both MSN and DNP programs. You will need to find out what specialization the national certification body that you want to represent you can offer.
Such specialization typically requires a graduate degree program specific to the population focus, as determined by the respective national certifying bodies.
If you have not met all the necessary licensure requirements yet, you may be able to apply for a provisional license. For this, you must have graduated no longer than one year ago and you must not hold a national certification yet. The license itself will last for one year, and you must achieve your national certification during this year.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED.
The Board recognizes three different types of ARNPs and you must become registered in one or more of these areas. They are:
- NP – Nurse Practitioner
- CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife
- CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Your national certification exam must be recognized by the Florida Board of Nursing. They currently recognize the following agencies:
- 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 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 PNCB (Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, which recognizes the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in Acute Care and Primary Care.
- The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board), which recognize the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
- The National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), which recognizes the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
Before you gain ARNP licensure in Florida, you must obtain your national certification.
STAGE 3. APPLY TO BECOME LICENSED.
This will require you to provide your social security number. You cannot become licensed if your RN license will be up for renewal within less than 120 days. In this case, you must renew your RN license first. You must complete the Application for Dual Registered Nurse and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner for both RN and ARNP license, or ARNP license on its own. Additionally, if you want to be able to sell medication within an office, you will also have to to complete the Dispensing Practitioner Registration form.
Once your application has been received and accepted, you will be sent a paper copy of your license. Additionally, you will be given a login name and password. This gives you access to the online renewal system.
As an ARNP, you must sign up to a protocol in order to diagnose, treat and operate. This is a collaborative agreement that you will enter in with a licensed physician. The protocol must be sent to the Board before you start to work.
You will also have to go through a full criminal history check and you must submit two fingerprint cards if you are moving from an RN to an ARNP license, or a dual degree. You can order these cards online.
STAGE 4 – RENEW YOUR LICENSE.
You do this at the same time as your RN license, as the ARNP license is classed as an “upgrade”. You can renew your license biannually, and this can be completed online. Once you have an ARNP license, you only have to renew that one, rather than having to renew your RN license separately as well. The fee for renewal is $166. You will receive a renewal notice between three and four months before your license expires. Please be aware that renewal can take as much as three weeks, which means you should not leave it till the last minute.
Florida does not require you to complete CE credits during your first period of licensure. After that, you will need to complete 24 hours of CE for every two years in order to maintain your license. Two of these hours must focus on preventing medical errors. Additionally, you must complete two domestic violence hours every six years. Your national certification agency will have its own CE requirements that you must meet.
Florida Board of Nursing
Department of Health
Board of Nursing
4052 Bald Cypress Way
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3252
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET
CNA FAX: 850-412-2207