Illinois is an interesting place to work as a nurse. There are many job openings and these are set to grow even further. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average salary for a registered nurse (RN) was $66,730, which is quite attractive. However, most enter the nursing workforce not for the money, but rather because the feel it is their calling. Let’s take a look at how you become a nurse in Illinois.
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
Entry level nursing is a three stage process:
STAGE 1. IDENTIFY WHETHER YOU WANT TO BECOME AN LPN OR RN.
To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), you complete a one year degree program that teaches you about basic patient care. To be a registered nurse (RN), you will complete either a two year associate’s degree (ADN) or a four year bachelor’s degree (BSN). The longer you study, the more in-depth and specialized your knowledge will be and the better your career opportunities.
STAGE 2. MEET THE RELEVANT PREREQUISITES.
To take part in an LPN program, you usually only have to finish high school or your GED. For the ADN and BSN programs, you generally have to complete a number of prerequisite courses in subjects that include statistics, math, English and biology.
STAGE 3. PASS THE APPROPRIATE NCLEX EXAM.
The NCLEX-PN examination is for LPNs and the NCLEX-RN exam is for RNs.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) is a four stage process.
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE IN A NURSING SPECIALTY.
This should be done through a program accredited by a body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A number of in-state programs have been pre-approved by the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. The specialty areas they recognize are nurse leader, nurse administrator, CCNE and NLNAC approved programs, as listed here.
The Nurse Practice Act of Illinois has determined a curriculum must include:
• Advanced nursing patient assessment and diagnosis
• Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic and therapeutic tests
• Ordering and using nursing medical, therapeutic, and corrective measures in treatment
• End-of-life and palliative care
• Advanced counseling
• Patient education
• Health education
• Patient advocacy
• Advanced pharmacology
APNs can request prescriptive authority for controlled substances. To do so, their graduate program must have included 45 hours of contact in pharmacology. Additionally, if you want to maintain this, you must complete 5 contact hours at graduate level every year.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED.
You must complete this before you earn your APN license. Your license will demonstrate your area of specialization and your population focus if you took one. To become nationally certified, you have to meet the requirements set with the agency you are registered with.
Illinois recognizes the following specializations:
- CNP – Certified Nurse Practitioner
- CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife
- CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- CNS – Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist
The state also recognizes the following bodies that provide national certification:
- The AMCB
- The NBCRNA
- The SUNA
- The ANCC
- The AANP
- The NCC
- The PNCB
- The AACN
- The ARN
- The ONCC
- The ABCM
- The AANN
- The American Board of Occupational Health Nurses
- The AHNCC
- The American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification
- The PSNCB
- The HANCB
- The BCEN
- The CCI
- The ABCGN
- The DNCB
- The IBLCE
- The INTNSA
- The INCC
- The NBCSN
- The National Board of Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses
- The NCBDE
- The NCBORN
- The BONENT
- The ONCB
- The SVN
- The WOCNCB
Each of these agencies recognizes different nursing specializations and has different requirements for examination and certification.
STAGE 3. APPLY FOR YOUR ILLINOIS APN LICENSE.
Use the Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Application on which you will indicate what your area of specialization is. You must include various other pieces of documentation, as well as the necessary fees. If you had a license in a different state in the previous five years, you must include Document CT-APN, which is found in the packet. You must send this to the Board of the state in which you held your license, before sending it back to Illinois.
If you have completed your studies but haven’t taken your certification examination, you may request a temporary permit. This is valid for six months, but you must be registered to take your examination.
If you want to apply for prescriptive authority, you must also complete the Mid-Level Practitioner Controlled Substances License, which is also in the packet. An additional $5 fee is incurred for this. It must be countersigned by your collaborating physician, who must complete the Notice of Delegated Prescriptive Authority for Controlled Substances. This form is also in your application packet.
You must also complete document CCA, which allows the Department to run a criminal history background check in your name.
STAGE 4 – Renew your license by May 31 of each even-numbered year.
You can complete this online. To renew, you need to send in a copy of your national certification, proof of continuous education (CE) (50 hours in the past two years), your RN license (valid and unencumbered) and the necessary fees.
You need to complete 50 hours of CE to renew your license. If you hold multiple specializations, you still only need to complete 50 hours in total. Additionally, your national certification agency will have CE requirements that you must complete as well.
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, Illinois 62786
Phone: 217 785 – 0820
Toll Free: 1-888-4REGUL8 (1-888-473-4858)
100 West Randolph, 9th Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Phone: 312 814 – 4500
Toll Free:1-888-4REGUL8 (1-888-473-4858)