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Stage 1. Choose your educational program.
You can choose a one-year diploma program and become a licensed practical nurse (LPN). You can also choose a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) or four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) to become a registered nurse (RN). The RN license is the most popular as it opens more career opportunities and allows for better salaries.
Stage 2. Complete prerequiste courses.
For a diploma, the requirement is generally to have completed high school or hold a GED certificate. For those who choose the ADN or BSN, a number of undergraduate courses in relevant fields usually have to be completed.
Stage 3. Complete your educational program.
The first year usually focuses on hands-on care and skills. The second year goes into more details, including nurse management. The final two years focus on very specific courses, such as maternal care and community health programming.
Stage 4. Pass the NCLEX Exam.
LPNs need to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Practical Nurses, while RNs must take the NCLEX-RN exam.
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Advance Practice Nurses
To become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you must complete the following requirements.
Stage 1. Earn a graduate degree.
The educational program must be recognized by the Maryland Board of Nursing. It must have been accredited by an agency that is known by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council of Higher Education Accreditation. The Board has also declared that approved programs must include the following in their curriculum:
- Advanced health assessment
- Advanced physiology/pathophysiology
- Advanced pharmacology
Those who are APRN certified in Maryland automatically gain prescriptive authority. If you choose to use it, then you have to fill out an NP Written Collaborative Agreement that outlines which drugs you intend to prescribe.
You can choose to take an APRN specialization, which will significantly increase your job prospects as well. There are a number of specializations to choose from, including but not limited to gerontological nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner.
You can apply for graduate status as soon as you complete your program. This is before you become nationally certified. Once you have this status, you can start working as an APRN while you await your certification. You need to complete the appropriate form for this, which is one of the following:
1. Nurse Psychotherapist Graduate Supervision Agreement
2. Nurse-Midwife Graduate Supervision Agreement
3. Nurse Practitioner Graduate Supervision Agreement
4. Nurse Anesthetist Graduate Supervision Agreement
Stage 2. Earn national certification.
You must become certified in one of the four recognized categories, which are:
- Nurse practitioner
- Certified nurse midwife
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist
- Psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist/nurse psychotherapist
The following national certification programs are recognized by the board:
• The American Nurses Credentialing Center, which recognizes the adult nurse practitioner, 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 American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, which recognizes the acute care nurse practitioner.
• The National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties, which recognizes the women's health nurse practitioner and the neonatal nurse practitioner.
• The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, which recognizes the pediatric nurse practitioner.
• The American Midwifery Certification Board, which recognizes the certified nurse midwife.
• The National Board on Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, which recognizes the certified registered nurse anesthetist.
Stage 3. Apply for certification.
For this, you must disclose your federal tax ID or social security number. NPs have to complete the nurse practitioner certification; nurse midwives have to complete the nurse midwife certification application form, as well as a collaborative plan. Nurse anesthetists have to complete the nurse anesthetist certification application, as well as a collaboration agreement; psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners have to complete the nurse psychotherapist application form.
Each of these applications require a great deal of supplemental documentation. It will usually take around four weeks for processing to be completed, and your status can be viewed online. You will not receive a paper copy of your license. A full criminal history background check is also required.
Stage 4. Renew your certificate.
This is done every year, by the 20th day of the month of your birthday. Your RN license expires at the same time. Renewal can be completed online.
To renew your license, you must demonstrate that you have engaged in 1,000 hours of practice in the past five years. If you do not have this, a refresher course approved by the board must be completed.
There are no continuing education requirements by the board. However, the national certification agency you are registered with will have requirements that you must complete. You may be asked to demonstrate that your license is active, for which you must meet all the necessary continuing education requirements.
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