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Steps to Becoming an APN in Colorado

colorado nursing

Get your Graduate Degree in Colorado
Earn your National Certification in Colorado
Apply for your Advanced Practice Certificate in Colorado
Renewing your Advanced Practice Registration in Colorado

 

The Colorado Board of Nursing  (303-894-2430) provides licenses in advanced practice nursing (APN) to qualified candidates practicing in the state.

The Colorado Board of Nursing recognizes four types of APN:

  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Nurse practitioner

As a candidate for APN licensure, it is assumed you hold an RN license in Colorado or in one of the Nurse Licensure Compact sates (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin).

Colorado Job Statistics

  • 2011 base salary for NPs in CO: $85,384
  • July 2010, Board of Nursing creates 2 levels, provisional and full prescriptive authority, for APNs in Colorado
  • May 2012, RNs #1 top occupation by number of job openings: 5,560
  • Colorado CRNAs provide anesthesia in 99.9% of Colorado counties where surgical services are available
  • Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence predicts an additional 18,990 RNs are needed in the state between 2008 and 2018
  • If you hold an RN license in a state that is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, do not apply for Colorado RN licensure unless you plan to move to Colorado and call it your permanent residence
  • If you received your RN training in another country, you must prove that your academic credentials and qualifications are equivalent to the state’s requirements for licensure by examination. Contact the Board for more information.

The following steps describe how to become a licensed APN in Colorado.


 

Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

The Colorado Board of Nursing must approve your graduate-level APN program in order for your credits to count towards qualifying for APN licensure.

Rules and regulations for approval of nursing education programs in Colorado are available here.

Qualified Graduate Programs

You must complete a graduate-level APN program that is approved by the Board and accredited by a nursing accreditation body recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA):

  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
  • Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)
  • Accreditation Council for Midwifery Education (formerly the Division of Accreditation of the American College of Nurse Midwives)
  • Midwifery Education Accreditation Council
  • National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health Council on Accreditation

If the program you completed is not Board approved, you may ask program representatives to initiate the Application Templates for New Program approval process by visiting this link and filling out the proper forms.

Course Requirements

The Colorado Board of Nursing has ruled that education for advanced practice nurses must be at the graduate or post-graduate level. Although course requirements have not been specified, the Board states that your program must be specific to a certain APN role and/or population focus.

Advanced practice nursing education must academically prepare you for the expanded scope of practice of an APN. The APN’s scope of practice may include, but is not limited to, advanced assessment; ordering, diagnosing, prescribing, treating, selecting, administering, and dispensing therapeutic and diagnostic measures including pharmacological agents.

Prescriptive Authority

As an advanced practice nurse, you must qualify and apply for prescriptive authority. You must complete three graduate semester hours in each of the following courses to qualify:

  • Pharmacology (including education on prescribing drugs and controlled substances)
  • Pathophysiology
  • Physical assessment

You must also document an 1800 hour preceptorship and mentorship and develop an Articulated Plan (a sample of which can be found here). If you receive prescriptive authority, the credential you hold will be RXN-P.

Specialization 

You may choose to specialize in one or more areas within your APN category. If you do, you will take specialized courses focused on that area/population.  Examples of recognized specialties within Colorado are:

  • CNS specialties: Acute Care, Adult, Family, Gerontology, Neonatal, Pediatric, Psychiatric/Mental Health, Women’s Health
  • NP specialties: Acute Care, Adult, Family, Gerontology, Neonatal, Pediatric, Psychiatric/Mental Health, Women’s Health


 

Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

The Colorado Board of Nursing issues licenses for four specific APN types. You must become nationally certified in the area in which you wish to practice.

These independent national certification agencies set their own education, experience, and examination requirements. Once national certification is obtained, you must adhere to your agency’s requirements for maintaining certification, which may include fulfilling practice hour requirements or continuing education.

Advanced Nursing Practice Categories

The Colorado Board of Nursing recognizes these four APN types:

  • Nurse practitioner (NP)
  • Certified nurse-midwife (CNM)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

Certification Programs

The Colorado Board of Nursing recognizes national certification programs for APNs provided by the following organizations:

You must obtain national certification in your chosen population focus area before moving ahead in Colorado’s APN licensure process. Contact the correct national certification agency for details.


 

Step 3. Apply for Advanced Practice Registration

As of January 1, 2009, you must have a Social Security Number in order to apply for an Advanced Practice Nursing license in Colorado. If you are a foreign national who is not physically present in the United States, or a non-immigrant who is in the United States on a student visa and do not have a Social Security Number, accommodations may be made for you. If this applies to you, submit a signed Social Security Number Affidavit along with your APN license application in lieu of a Social Security Number.

Nurse Practitioner:

Complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Nurse Practitioner (NP). Include the appropriate documentation for each population focus in which you seek specialization.

  • Request that your national certification agency send official verification of your certification to the Colorado Board of Nursing
  • Complete a Healthcare Professions Profile online
  • Attach official, sealed college transcripts documenting your graduate nurse practitioner education
  • Include $75 application fee via check or money order, payable to the State of Colorado

Certified Nurse Midwife:

Complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Include the following:

  • Complete a Healthcare Professions Profile online
  • Request that the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) send official verification of your national certification to the Colorado Board of Nursing
  • Attach official, sealed college transcripts documenting your graduate nurse midwifery education
  • Include $75 application fee via check or money order, payable to the State of Colorado

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist:

Complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).  Also, complete the following:

  • Complete a Healthcare Professions Profile online
  • Request that the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) send official verification of your national certification to the Colorado Board of Nursing
  • Attach official, sealed college transcripts documenting your graduate nurse anesthetist education
  • Attach $75 application fee via check or money order payable to the State of Colorado

Clinical Nurse Specialist:

Complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry-Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). Include the following:

  • Complete a Healthcare Professions Profile online
  • Request that your national certification agency send official verification of your certification to the Colorado Board of Nursing
  • Attach official, sealed college transcripts documenting your graduate clinical nurse specialist education
  • Attach $75 application fee via check or money order payable to the State of Colorado

All completed applications, additional documentation, and fees should be mailed to Division of Registrations, State Board of Nursing – Advanced Practice Nursing, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1350, Denver, CO 80202.

You will not automatically receive a paper copy of your APN license once authorized. It is typically verified through the Automated Licensure Information System Online (ALISON). You can request a paper copy or access ALISON at this link.

Criminal History Background Check

You do not have to undergo a criminal history background check as part of Colorado’s APN licensing process. However, before you begin working in any health care capacity in Colorado, you will be asked to submit fingerprints for such a check. For more information, contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at 303-239-4301.

Prescriptive Authority

Once you have APN authorization in Colorado, you may wish to apply for prescriptive authority. This may be done by filing the Application for Prescriptive Authority-Advanced Practice Nurse.

You must submit a separate application, fee, and documentation for each patient population for which you wish to have prescriptive authority. You must also complete Form RXN-A, Attestation of Completion of Post-Graduate Prescribing Experience, and Form RXN-B, Attestation of Development of Articulated Plan.


 

Step 4. Renewing Your Advanced Practice Registration

Your Colorado APN registration expires every two years at the same time your RN license expires. If you have prescriptive authority, it will expire at the same time. You may verify your licensure status online at any time at this link, as you will no longer be mailed a paper license.

Continuing Education

The Colorado Board of Nursing does not require RNs or APNs to fulfill continuing education requirements in order to renew licenses or registration. However, your national certification agency has its own requirements for recertification. Contact your agency for more details:

Your national certification must remain active in order to renew your APN registration.

Renewal Notice

The Colorado Board of Nursing will send you a renewal reminder prior to the expiration date of your RN license/APN registration. You may renew your RN license/APN registration online, and pay all renewal fees online as well. You will be asked to furnish proof, through your national certification agency, of continuing national certification. Once renewed, you will receive written verification from the Board.

Expired Registration Renewal Application

APN registration that is expired or inactive may be reinstated. Use the registry reinstatement forms found on this page.

Advanced Practice Nurse Associations in Colorado

Once you have obtained APN status in Colorado, you may want to join some of the professional organizations that represent your profession:

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