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Become Nurse In Kentucky + Requirements & Licensing

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In order to become part of the nursing workforce in Kentucky, there are a number of options available to you. It is an interesting state to work in, with demand for nurses being very high. Additionally, this demand is likely to rise significantly over the common years.



If you want to become a nurse as quickly as possible, you should choose the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) diploma. This will take just one year to complete. Most, however, choose to become Registered Nurses (RNs), which can either be done through a two year associate’s degree (ADN) or a four year bachelor’s degree (BSN).


For an LPN diploma, you will usually only have to have completed a high school education or equivalent. However, ADN and BSN programs will often require a number of prerequisite courses in relevant subjects.


With the LPN program, you will learn basic patient care and other nursing skills. With the ADN, you will go into more in-depth care and knowledge. But the BSN program is even deeper, looking at subjects such as bioterrorism, third world health, and more.


This is the NCLEX-PN for LPNs and the NCLEX-RN for RNs.


To become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), you must complete the following requirements.


This must add to the basic nursing education. The Kentucky Board of Nursing has determined that this must be at least at master’s (MSN) level. Additionally, the program must be accredited by ACEN or CCNE or an accreditation that is accepted by the U.S Department of Education. This is also necessary if your degree was completed in a state other than Kentucky.

Kentucky follows the APRN Consensus Model. This means that a student must be educated in the six foci of population, which are adult health and gerontology; family/individual health across the lifespan; pediatrics; neonatology; psychiatric mental health; and women’s health and gender related health. Furthermore, those who want to be a CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist) or NP (Nurse Practitioner) must be nationally certified for one of these foci. CNMs (Clinical Nurse Midwives) and CRNAs (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) have their foci automatically incorporated in their degree. A degree program must also have a clinical element that meets the required standards relating to your chosen population foci. You can also choose to specialize in areas such as nursing leadership, administration, education, rural health or public health. You can also opt for a dual degree, such as one that combines nursing with business administration.


You must choose at least one population focus, but you can select multiple ones as well. The Board recognizes four different certifications:

  1. NP – Nurse Practitioner
  2. CNM – Certified Nurse Midwife
  3. CRNA – Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  4. CNS – Clinical Nurse Specialist

The Board in Kentucky recognizes the following national bodies for certification:

• The AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board), which recognizes the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).

• The National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), which recognizes the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

• 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 AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses), which recognizes the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

• 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 Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), which recognizes the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP).


You can do this online, together with various pieces of documentation that the Board requires. When your license is approved, you will receive a notification via email, but you won’t receive a paper copy of your license.

In order to become licensed, you must also pass both a state and federal criminal background check. For your federal check, you can request a fingerprint card online and have your prints taken at your local law enforcement office. Your state criminal background check can also be completed online.

As an APRN in Kentucky, you must enter into a collaborative practice agreement with a physician if you wish to obtain prescriptive authority. Once you have completed this agreement, you must send it to the Board. If you also wish to prescribe controlled substances, you must have been an APRN for at least one year.

It is possible to apply for temporary practice authorization if you meet all the necessary requirements. The Board will only allow this for a set period of time and they will inform you as to how long this will be. You will then be classed as an APRN Applicant.


This must be done every year between the 15th of September and the 31st of October and can be completed online. To do this, you must also meet continuous education (CE) requirements that have been set by the national organization that has certified you. Additionally, the Kentucky Board requires you to complete 14 contact hours each year, five of which must be completed in pharmacology, even if you don’t have prescriptive authority. Additionally, these hours must be provided by an approved organization.

You will receive a notice to remind you when your license is up for renewal. Once you have renewed your license, you will receive a verification email to confirm this, but you will not receive a paper copy.

Kentucky Board of Nursing
312 Whittington pkwy
Louisville, KY 40222
P: (502) 429-3300
F: (502) 429-3311

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