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To become a registered nurse (RN) in Arizona, you must be licensed through the Arizona State Board of Nursing. Nurses are either endorsed or licensed. Additionally, Arizona is a compact state, which means that a license from another compact state can be used in Arizona.
Entry-Level Practice Nurses
Arizona has higher than average pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for RNs and practical nurses. Yet, there is no official NCLEX preparation. However, help is available for those who have failed the NCLEX.
Stage 1 - Complete an approved nursing program.
There are various entries into nursing. Generally, all programs will require prospective students to have completed high school or have a GED certificate. The programs will usually start with science classes and other prerequisites required by Arizona nursing schools. Students can choose four different nursing options:
- Become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). There is a high demand for CNAs in the state due to the aging population.
- Become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) , which takes just one year to complete. See LPN salary outlook.
- Become an RN through an associate degree, which takes around two years to complete. See RN requirements by state.
- Become an RN through a bachelor’s degree, which takes around four years to complete and is much more advanced and in-depth than the associate option.
Stage 2 - Become certified by passing the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN exam.
Advanced Practice Nurses
To become an advanced practice RN (APRN), Arizona has other requirements.
Stage 1 - Gain a graduate degree at the master's level or above.
The nursing program must be accredited by the U.S. Department for Education. The national accreditation agencies are:
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center
- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- The National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing Specialties
- The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses
- The American College of Nurse Midwives Certification Council
- The American Association of Nurse Anesthetist's Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs
Graduate programs must always include a minimum of 500 clinical practice hours. Additionally, they must include advanced pathophysiology, application of evidence to advanced practice, the advanced practice nursing role, and advanced health assessment.
If the Arizona nursing master's program includes 45 contact hours of clinical management of drug therapy and/or pharmacology, graduates can also apply for prescriptive authority.
You must choose a specialization as an APRN, although you can choose multiple ones. The options for nurse practitioner include adult, family, acute care, gerontological, pediatric, adult psychiatric and mental health, family psychiatric mental health, women’s health, and neonatal. Additionally, the state recognizes various clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). These are adult critical care, neonatal critical care, pediatric critical care, adult psychiatric and mental health, child/adolescent psychiatric and mental health, and gerontological and adult health. Finally, Arizona also recognizes the certified nurse midwife (CNM).
To become certified, your education must be no more than five years old.
Stage 2 - Become nationally certified.
There are four different categories you can choose from: CNM, nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). The program must be certified by a national agency. The available options are:
- The American Nurses Credentialing Center, which recognizes adult nurse practitioners, acute care nurse practitioner, gerontological nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, adult psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, and the family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, which recognizes the adult nurse practitioner and the adult-gerontology primary care NP
- The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, which recognizes acute and primary care pediatric nurse practitioners
- The National Certification Corporation, which recognizes the women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) and the neonatal nurse practitioner
- The American Midwifery Certification Board, which recognizes the CNM
- The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, which recognizes the pediatric critical care CNS, the adult critical care CNS, and the neonatal critical care CNS
- The National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists, which recognizes the CRNA
Stage 3 - Get your certification.
For this, you need to prove your citizenship status. You can use your social security card for this. Depending on your chosen category, you will need to follow the appropriate steps.
- For NPs, you must use the Application for Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Midwife Certification. You must provide all necessary documentation and complete the section pertaining to prescriptive authority if you wish to have this.
- For CNS, you must use the Application for Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist/Nurse Midwife Certification. Again, you must include all relevant documentation.
- For CRNA, you must complete the Application for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Again, you must include all relevant documentation and you must prove you have completed hours of pharmacology or clinical drug management education. You must also apply to the Drug Enforcement Agency if you wish to have prescriptive authority for controlled substances.
- For all specializations, a full criminal history check will be done. You must also provide new fingerprints every two years. You will not receive your certificate until your fingerprint results have been returned.
Stage 4 - Renew your certification every four years, together with your RN license.
Do this before April 1. You must prove that you are nationally certified at that time. During the four years, you must have completed 960 practice hours, whether paid or not.
If you cannot demonstrate that you have completed the 960 practice hours, you must show evidence of 45 continuing education hours at advanced pharmacology, and a further 45 hours in your chosen specialty. Additionally, you must take part in a supervised precepted practice in your specialty area.
Do also check the continuous education requirements of your national certification agency.
Renewals can be completed online.
Arizona Board of Nursing
1740 W Adams Street
Suite 2000, Phoenix, AZ 85007
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