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CNA to LVN Requirements to Challenge the California Nursing Board

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As a Certified Nursing Assistant in California, you have the option to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse. The California Board of Vocational Nursing has what is called Method 3, Qualification Based on Equivalent Education and/or Experience. Upgrading your credentials from a CNA to an LVN, has four requirements, including four years of active nursing experience in in acute care, sub-acute care or medical-surgical nursing. Once you have fulfilled the requirements you can challenge the National Council Licensure Examination-Practical Nurse, or NCLEX-PN for your LVN designation.

Requirement One

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You must be a licensed CNA in good standing. You must have 48 months of nursing work experience in acute care, sub-acute care or medical-surgical nursing. You also will need to have worked at least six weeks in both maternity and pediatric care. You must have completed 54 hours of pharmacology from a board-accredited school.

Requirement Two

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You must obtain an application packet from the California Board of Vocational Nursing by calling the main telephone number at (916) 263-7800 or by sending an email to the board at Provide your full name and mailing address. Included in the application will be a self-addressed stamped envelope that the board will send to you once your application to take the NCLEX-PN is approved.

Requirement Three

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You must obtain an Employment Verification – Nursing Experience packet from the California Board of Vocational Nursing. Have each employer you have worked for fill out the required sections and send the packet to the board. Once the packet has been completed it is to be sealed in an envelope marked "Employment Verification." Your employer and/or each former employer must be the one to mail this packet to the board, not you. The board will not accept documents that have been opened or tampered with.

Requirement Four

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You must submit a Request for Live Scan Service applicant submission form for fingerprinting. Download the form from the California Board of Vocational Nursing Web site. Most police and sheriff offices, as well as local Department of Justice offices have the ability to do Live Scan fingerprinting, so call and check those in your area. They may charge a fee for this service, and you will be required to show proof of identity. The office doing the fingerprinting will send the form to the Department of Justice and the FBI to check your background. Once both the Department of Justice and the FBI have run the necessary background check, each agency will send the Live Scan fingerprint form to the board.


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The application fee as of 2010 was $150 for reviewing and processing. Once you have submitted all of the proper documents and the fee, it could take four to twelve weeks to get a response from the California Board of Vocational Nursing. If your application is approved, you will be given a testing date and site to take the NCLEX-PN. The fee to take the test as of 2010 was $200.


Christina Floyd has been a full-time writer since 2009. She has had articles published in "The Bavarian News" and "The Schweinfurt Dispatch." Floyd's expertise includes the medical field, creative writing and the military lifestyle. She has been a student in alternative and herbal therapies since 2010.

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