Steps to Becoming an APRN in Washington, DC

Get your Graduate Degree in DC
Earn your National Certification in DC
Apply for your APRN Authority in DC
Renewing your APRN Authority in DC

The District of Columbia Board of Nursing (877-672-2174) grants advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) authority to qualified registered nurses.

The District of Columbia recognizes four APRN authorities:

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

You must hold a District of Columbia registered nurse (RN) license before the Board will grant APRN authority.

Washington, DC Statistics

  • 2015 mean salary for NPs in DC: $101,260
  • 2016 active RN licenses in DC: 23,485
  • 2015 NPs in DC: 520
  • 2015 Nurse Anesthetists in DC: 110
  • If you hold a current RN license outside of the District, or have never been licensed as an RN, use the New License Application to apply for a DC RN license. Check the appropriate box at the top of the application to indicate your situation.
  • If you are an RN who received training in another country, you must first have your academic credentials evaluated by the Council for Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). These results must be mailed with your New License Application (above) to the DC Board of Nursing.
  • If your DC RN license is currently inactive, contact the Customer Service Department of the Health Professional Licensing Administration at 202-724-4900 or 202-724-8800 for information on reactivating it.

To become an APRN in the District of Columbia, proceed with the following steps.


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

You must complete an accredited post-basic nursing education program in order to receive APRN authority in the District of Columbia. Currently approved District of Columbia schools of nursing are listed here, but any nationally accredited, program you choose will qualify you for APRN authority in DC.

Qualified Graduate Programs

You must successfully complete a graduate program that is nationally accredited by an agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) (check both Institutional and Specialized or Programmatic Accrediting Agencies).

  • Aspiring CRNA: You must graduate from a post-bachelor’s degree nursing program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs or another nationally recognized accrediting body.
  • Aspiring CNS: You must complete at least an accredited master’s degree program specific to the clinical specialty in which you intend to practice.
  • Aspiring CNM: You must complete a post-basic program in nurse midwifery that is approved by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) or another nationally recognized accrediting agency listed in the USDE database above.
  • Aspiring NP: You must complete a post-basic program in nursing that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency and that is relevant to your area of practice.

Course Requirements

The District of Columbia Board of Nursing specifies only APRN core-competency courses included as a standard part of all accredited APRN programs. You will find the following courses included in accredited APRN programs:

  • CRNA:
    • You must have completed at least 3 credit hours or 30 contact hours of pharmacology and clinical management of drug therapy or pharmacotherapeutics within five years of applying for APRN certification
    • You must complete a preceptorship that is at least one year long
    • Other coursework you may encounter within the CRNA scope of practice:
      • Physical assessment of patients
      • Interpreting laboratory results
      • Administration of general and regional anesthesia, inhalation agents, intravenous agents and hypnosis
      • Patient monitoring procedures
      • Life support functions such as intubation, induction, using support devices, managing fluid balances
      • Placement of peripheral and central venous and arterial lines
      • Recognizing and treating cardiac arrhythmia
      • Recognizing and treating abnormal patient responses to anesthesia
  • CNS:
    • You must have completed at least 3 credit hours or 30 contact hours of pharmacology and clinical management of drug therapy or pharmacotherapeutics within five years of applying for APRN certification. This course must relate to the CNS scope of practice
    • You must complete a preceptorship that is at least one year long
    • Other coursework you may encounter within the CNS scope of practice:
      • Management of  health or psychiatric problems
      • Therapeutic methods and techniques
      • Innovations in your specialty area
  • CNM:
    • You must complete a preceptorship that is at least one year long
    • Other coursework you may encounter within the CRNA scope of practice:
      • Caring for and managing  the normal obstetrical patient
      • Performing minor surgery
      • Initiation and management of local anesthesia
      • Newborn care
      • Postpartum care
      • Gynecological care
      • Medications/pharmacology
      • Family planning services
  • NP:
    • You must complete a preceptorship that is at least one year long
    • Other coursework you may encounter within the CRNA scope of practice:
      • Adult care
      • Primary health care
      • Pharmacology
      • Physical assessment
      • Diagnosis
      • Family care
      • Gerontological care
      • Pediatric care
      • Neonatal care
      • School nurse care
      • Psychiatric care

Prescriptive Authority

As an APRN in the District of Columbia, you are automatically granted prescriptive authority. You will take coursework in pharmacology and the use of therapeutic agents. You will be authorized to prescribe all classes of drugs, including controlled substances, as long as the medications relate to your scope of practice.

Specialization

Many CNSs and NPs choose to specialize in specific patient populations, settings, disease types, or treatment foci, while others choose to operate as generalists.

If choosing to specialize, your national certification agency will likely require your graduate program to be specific to that area of specialty. Examples of such recognized specialty areas and patient population foci include:

  • Acute care
  • Adult health
  • Pediatric
  • Psychiatric/mental health
  • Emergency nursing
  • Family
  • Geriatric
  • Neonatal
  • Women’s health
  • School health


Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

The District of Columbia Board of Nursing grants APRN authority in four general areas of specialty: nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist, and clinical nurse specialist.

National certification in the general area of specialty in which you plan to practice is necessary prior to becoming eligible for APRN authority. You may choose to further specialize in a patient population focus, setting, disease type, or treatment focus.

National certification agencies set their own eligibility requirements that must be met independent of licensure in the District.

Certification Programs

The District of Columbia Board of Nursing accepts certification programs for APRNs offered by these national certifying bodies:

Holding national certification is necessary before you can go any further in the District of Columbia’s APRN authority certification process. Contact the appropriate national certification agency for more information.


Step 3. Apply for Your APRN Authority

In accordance with federal law, you must include your US social security number on your APRN application. If you do not have a social security number or Federal Tax ID number, contact the District of Columbia Board of Nursing at 877-672-2174.

Complete the New License Application. Be sure to check the box at the top indicating that you are applying for APRN authority. Attach the following documents to your completed application:

  • Two recent, identical 2” x 2” passport-type photos showing your face. Print your social security number and name on the back of each photo.
  • Official, sealed copy of your transcript from graduate nursing school, with a cover letter from the school
  • Copy of any RN licenses held in other states, if applicable
  • Verification of your original RN license from NURSYS system, if applicable
  • Verification Form verifying your certified specialty from your national certification agency
  • Application fee paid by check/money order payable to DC Treasurer (see application for exact amount)

Mail all of the above documents to Department of Health, Health Professional Licensing Administration, Board of Nursing, 899 North Capitol St. NE, First Floor,

Washington, DC 20002.

You may check the status of your application at any time by logging on here.

If you would like to work while your application for DC APRN certification is pending, you must appear in person at the Department of Health office with a Supervised Practice Form (completed by your employer) and all of the above documents (including your application). If approved, you will be given a Letter of Supervised Practice, allowing you to work in your specialty under the supervision of another certified APRN while your application is pending. This letter is valid for 90 days. Contact the Board for a Supervised Practice Form.

Criminal History Background Check

No criminal history background check is required to obtain APRN authority in the District of Columbia, since with your RN license you should have already undergone such a check. However, if you answer “yes” to any of the Screening Questions in Section 7 of the certification application, you must provide a complete explanation for that answer on a separate sheet of paper.

If you have never undergone a criminal background check in the District, you must submit to one. Fingerprinting is done through L-1 Enrollment Services or the DC Metropolitan Police Department (call 202-442-9004).


Step 4. Renewing Your APRN Authority

Your authority to work as an APRN in the District of Columbia expires every two years on June 30. Renewal begins on Feb 1 of that year, and may be done online.

Continuing Education

You must complete continuing education requirements of both the District of Columbia Board of Nursing as well as those of your national certification agency. Contact your national certification agency for details on their requirements:

The District requires certified APRNs to complete 24 contact hours of continuing education. Fifteen of those hours must be in pharmacology, and nine of those hours must be specific to your APRN specialty. If you are certified in more than one APRN specialty, you may use the same course to count towards the continuing education requirements for each specialty certification (for example, 15 hours of pharmacology are applicable to all APRN specialties in which you are certified).

Visit this link for more information on continuing education opportunities and reporting requirements.

License Renewal Notice

The Board will notify you by mail when your renewal time is approaching. You may apply for renewal and pay renewal fees online. Your continuing education records are maintained online as well, but it is a good idea to maintain your own records in the event of a routine audit.

Expired Certificate Renewal Application

If you do not renew your APRN certificate by June 30, you must pay an $85 late fee in addition to regular renewal fees. If your RN license/APRN authority has been expired for more than five years, you must re-apply.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Associations in District of Columbia

Think about becoming a member of one of the following professional organizations in the District:


District of Columbia Nurse Practitioner Salary

Registered Nurse Salary

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
30100
75210
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV
39140
76090

Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners Salary

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
890
102580
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV
4310
116100

Nursing Instructors and Teachers Salary

Area name
Employment
Annual median wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
890
58640
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV
950
59680

Nurse Administrator Salary
(Includes Nurse Managers, Directors, and Chief Nursing Officers)

Area name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
4480
103490
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV
6680
105350

These tables provide salary and employment information compiled by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2011. The data contained herein does not include self-employed nurses in independent practice.

When responding to the salary survey, some advanced practice registered nurses identified themselves as RNs while others identified themselves as health diagnosing and treating practitioners. When available, both sets of data were included for comparative purposes.

* These figures represent earnings that are at or above $90.00 per hour or $187,199 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish earnings beyond $90.00 hourly or $187,199 yearly.

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