If you want to work in Florida as a certified nursing assistant or any type of nurse, you must apply to the state's board of nursing for a license. The board's licensing requirements vary depending on your profession, experience and circumstances. In some cases, you must take an exam or prove competency through education, experience or certification. In others, you may qualify for a license under reciprocity or endorsement rules.
All candidates must meet general criteria during the licensing process. Background checks cover criminal history, conviction records, healthcare fraud and previous license issues. You also must submit electronic fingerprints. Unless you're applying for a nursing assistant license, you have to complete a two-hour prevention of medical errors program approved by the board before you can receive your license.
For CNAs Only
Nursing assistants earn licenses by CNA exam or reciprocity. To take the exam route, you must be at least 18 years of age with a high school diploma or equivalent. Your postsecondary education must include completion of an Enterprise Florida Jobs and Education Partnership Grant program and a passing score on a board-approved nursing assistant competency exam. If you already have certification in another state and are on its registry, you can apply for a license by reciprocity without taking the CNA exam.
RN and LPN Requirements
Florida issues RN and LPN licenses by National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, and by endorsement. For the NCLEX, you must have graduated from a nursing education program approved by the state of Florida or accredited with a NCLEX code by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. You may also be eligible if you studied in a location that the NCSBN doesn't cover, but your program must meet board requirements. Experienced nurses can apply by endorsement. This might apply to you if have a valid nursing license from another state or have already passed the NCLEX or State Board Test Pool examinations. Work experience as a nurse for two of the previous three years also counts.
Clinical Specialty Requirements
Clinical nurse specialists are experienced nurses who specialize in certain categories, such as diseases, populations, and environments. You must have a current Florida RN license and a master's in clinical nursing to apply for a CNS license. You also need to hold CNS certification or prove that no certification is available in your specialty field. Certification must come from a national body accepted by the board. If there is no certifying body in your field, you must supply an affidavit stating that you have 1,000 hours of clinical experience in your specialty. You must have completed at least 500 hours of this experience after you earned your master's.
All advanced registered nurse practitioner, or ARNP, applicants must have a Florida RN license. You may also need a master's degree, depending on when you completed your nursing education. This applies to nurses who graduated on or after October 1, 1998, and to certified nurse anesthetists who graduated on or after October 1, 2001. You don't need a master's if you graduated before those dates. Under board rules, any candidate applying for an ARNP license after July 2006 must hold advanced practice certification from a nationally approved body. You also need malpractice insurance or an exemption.