Oregon has a significant nursing shortage. As a largely rural state, there are many medically underserved areas where demand for nurses is very high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that in order to attract more high quality nurses to the state, the salaries are above the national average, standing at $80,440, and rising. This makes it a very interesting state to get to work in as a nurse. So how do you become a nurse in Oregon?
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
Becoming a nurse in Oregon is a three stage process:
STAGE 1. DECIDE WHETHER TO TAKE THE LPN (LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE) OR RN (REGISTERED NURSE) OPTION.
It takes just one year to complete an LPN program, but job prospects and salaries are much lower. Hence, the common choice is to become an RN by either completing a 2 year associate’s degree (ADN) program, or a four year bachelor’s degree (BSN).
STAGE 2. MEET THE PREREQUISITES TO BE ACCEPTED TO THE SCHOOL OF YOUR CHOICE.
For RN programs in particular, you will generally be expected to complete a number of undergraduate courses in areas such as statistics and liberal arts.
STAGE 3. PASS THE RELEVANT NCLEX EXAM.
The NCLEX examination for LPNs is the NCLEX-PN, while the exam for RNs is the NCLEX-RN.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE AT MASTER’S LEVEL (MSN) AS A MINIMUM.
For Nurse Practitioners (NPs), the program must be accredited either by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Additionally, the program must emphasize a certain population focus, with a choice of :
- Acute Care
- Family Practice
- Nurse Midwife
- Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Women’s Health
Additionally, the curriculum must include core courses in pharmacology, physical assessment, differential diagnosis, pathophysiology and clinical management. Finally, it must include 500 supervised clinical hours in that population focus. It is also possible to choose multiple population focus.
For a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist), the program must be accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Additionally, they must meet one of the following specifications:
- Graduation took place no more than two years ago; or
- Having taken part in 850 practice hours that included teaching, direct care, supervision, consulting and research in relating to the CRNA scope.
For a CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist), the degree must be at least at MSN level and must be accredited by CCNE or ACEN. Graduation must have taken place in the past five years or you must have taken part in 960 practice hours in a CNS role in that same time period.
Those with an NP or CNS certificate can apply for prescriptive privileges if they meet the at least one of the following requirements:
- 45 contact hours in the past two years in pharmacology.
- 30 hour pharmacology course and 15 CE (continuous education) hours in pharmacological management.
- CNS or NP program that included 45 hours in pharmacology and a full clinical practicum in managing pharmacological needs.
It is also possible to prescribe controlled substances, but only if you already hold prescriptive privileges. You will automatically become registered with the DEA, unless you explicitly decline this.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED AS AN NP, CNS OR CRNA.
The following national certification agencies are recognized by the Board:
• The AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses), which recognizes the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
• The AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners), which recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP.
• The American College of Nurse-Midwives, which recognizes the Nurse Midwife Nurse Practitioner.
• The ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center), which recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner, 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 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 National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), which recognizes the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
• 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.
STAGE 3. APPLY FOR THE APRN CERIFICATE AS PER YOUR SPECIALIZATION.
- As an NP, you must complete the Nurse Practitioner Application, including the prescriptive authority form if you wish to apply for this. You must include relevant documentation and fees.
- As a CNS, you must fully complete the CNS application with relevant documentation and fees. Make sure you also include the prescriptive authority form if you wish to apply for it.
- As a CRNA, you must complete the CRNA application packet and include relevant documentation and fees.
STAGE 4. RENEW YOUR LICENSE.
Do this every two years from the year of your birth together with your RN license by midnight before you birthday. The Board offers an online verification system where you can check your current status and your application for renewal.
In terms of continuous education (CE), the Board expects you to meet the requirements as set by your national certification boar. Additionally, an NP or CNS with prescriptive privileges must complete at least 100 contact hours, 15 of which are with pharmacological content. If you are a CNS without prescriptive privileges, you must complete 40 CE hours. 50% of all these hours must be “structured,” meaning that they are at advanced level and relate to your specialty.
Oregon State Board of Nursing
Oregon State Board of Nursing
17938 SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd.
Portland, Oregon 97224-7012