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What Are the Requirements to Challenge the LVN Nursing Board?

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Having real world experience is invaluable in any vocation. The California LVN nursing Board has recognized this fact and allows certain individuals with health-care experience to "challenge" or sit in on the state nursing license exam, and thus effectively bypass formal nursing education. It is important to note that although LVN title refers to nurses in both California and Texas, the exam can only be challenged in California.

Paid Nursing Experience

In order to challenge the LVN board examination, applicants must have at least 51 months of paid bedside nursing experience. This includes 48 months of general medical-surgical experience, six weeks maternity or genitourinary nursing, plus six weeks in pediatric nursing. Paid bedside experience must have been within the last 10 years, half within the last five years. Previous health-care experience must be verified by employers indicating the dates of employment and number of hours completed in each area.

Pharmacology Course

All applicants planning to challenge the NCLEX-PN in California must have completed a course in pharmacology. Pharmacology teaches the student about pharmaceuticals, their indications, typical dosages and administration methods. It also includes learning how to prepare for administration, drug calculations and IV flow rates. The course must be 54 hours and can be taken online. Acceptable pharmacology courses include those offered by board-accredited LVN or RN programs.

Equivalent Education

Credit may also be given in lieu of the 51 months of paid experience in part if the applicant previously attended a board-accredited or approved LVN or RN program. In order to obtain credit, a transcript from the nursing school indicating the number of clinical hours completed in each area must be submitted to the board. Grades of C must have been earned in the courses.

Obtaining an LVN license by challenging the board may limit employment prospects, as no other state will accept or honor the license outside of California. In addition, since many facilities require graduation from a board-accredited program, employment even within California may be limited.

Military Experience

Those with at least 12 months of active military duty in addition to patient-care experience may challenge the LVN examination. It is a requirement that the applicant obtained basic education in nursing while in the military and can provide documentation of that. Also, the discharge must have been honorable. Military evaluations must be submitted specifying the dates served, hospital wards assigned to as well as the duties completed.


Aunice Reed is a medical science writer living in Los Angeles, Calif. With over 10 years previous nursing experience, Reed has been writing for over six years and has attended University of Northern Iowa, University of California, Los Angeles and Los Angeles Harbor College.

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