West Virginia is a wonderful state to live and work in, especially for nurses. There is a very high demand for nurses in particular, and this demand is rising mainly due to the aging population. Registered nurses (RNs) in this state earn a salary of $55,240 per year, which is below average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this salary is rising and the cost of living in West Virginia is lower than the national average. So how do you become a nurse in West Virginia?
ENTRY LEVEL PRACTICE NURSES
Entering the nursing workforce is a three stage process.
STAGE 1. CHOOSE WHETHER YOU WANT TO BECOME AN LPN (LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE) OR AN RN.
It takes just one year to become an LPN, but job opportunities and salaries are also lower. Hence, a common choice is completing a two year associate’s degree (ADN) or a four year bachelor’s degree (BSN), which is the most in-depth and most in demand degree program to become a registered nurse (RN).
STAGE 2. COMPLETE THE PREREQUISITES BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL OR GED.
ADN and BSN programs usually want you to complete a number of undergraduate courses. It is important to do well on these courses, as admission is competitive.
STAGE 3. PASS THE APPROPRIATE NCLEX EXAM.
The NCLEX examination for practical nurses is the NCLEX-PN and the exam for RNs is the NCLEX-RN.
ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSES
The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses describes a four stage process for those who want to become an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse).
STAGE 1. EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO HOLD AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF ADVANCED PRACTICE.
This degree must be at least at master’s level (MSN), focuses on a nursing specialty area, is recognized by the Board and is accredited by a national agency that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes. For those who want to become CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife), the program has to be accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
All programs must include the following courses in their curriculum:
• Advanced pharmacology
• Physical evaluation and assessment
As an APRN in West Virginia, you may apply for limited prescriptive writing privileges while you are studying. CNMs must have completed a pharmacology course at undergraduate level first. All APRNs must demonstrate they have completed graduate level education in pharmacology for at least 45 contact hours, as well as a supervised practice.
STAGE 2. BECOME NATIONALLY CERTIFIED.
Do this through one of the following agencies recognized by the Board:
• The AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses), which recognizes the Acute Care 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 AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners), which recognizes the Adult Nurse Practitioner and the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP.
• 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). Note that you only have to be certified if you want to hold prescriptive privileges.
• The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board), which recognizes the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
STAGE 3. APPLY FOR THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF ADVANCED PRACTICE.
You must do this by completing the Announcement of Advanced Practice and include all relevant documentation and fees. A different application is required for those who want to become CNM, which is the Application for Certified Nurse-Midwife License. Again, you must include all relevant documentation and fees.
If you want to apply for prescriptive privileges, you must also complete the Initial Application for Limited Prescriptive Writing Privileges and add all relevant documentation and fees. The same form is used for APRNs and CNMs. Additionally, if you want to prescribe controlled substances, you must apply for a DEA number.
STAGE 4. RENEW YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT EVERY YEAR BY OCTOBER 31.
This can be completed online.
Prescriptive authority must be renewed biannually. It is recommended that you complete your application for renewal no less than 30 days before your current privileges expire. You must complete the Renewal Application for Prescriptive Writing Privileges, which must be notarized.
There are no continuous education (CE) requirements set by the Board for an APRN in West Virginia. However, your national certification agency is likely to have various CE requirements that you must complete in order for your national certification to be valid. It is your responsibility to keep this up-to-date and to maintain records.
West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses
101 Dee Drive, Suite 102, Charleston, WV 25311-1620
Tel: 304.558.3596 or 877.743.NURS (6877) Fax: 304.558.3666