What is a State Board of Nursing?

Find A Program

Sponsored
Sponsored Listings

Featured Programs:

A state board of nursing is the state-specific licensing and regulatory body that sets the standards for safe nursing care, decides the scope of practice for nurses within its jurisdiction, and issues licenses to qualified candidates.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands have boards of nursing that collectively represent the member organizations that make up the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The NCSBN administers the National Council Licensure Examinations that all state boards require as part of the licensing process:

  • Registered Nurses (including advanced practice RNs) – NCLEX-RN exam
  • Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurses – (NCLEX-PN) exam

California, Georgia, Louisiana, and West Virginia have two boards, one for Registered Nurses (RNs) and one for LPNs or LVNs. One state, Nebraska, has a separate board for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

How State Nursing Licensure Works

State legislatures pass Nursing Practice Acts (NPAs) that establish state regulations for nurses. The NPA lays out the requirements for licensure and defines the scope of nursing practice. State boards of nursing then put the NPA into practice by setting administrative rules and regulations that further define the qualifications for licensure and the scope of practice. Board rules must be consistent with the NPA and can’t supersede NPA mandates.

All boards of nursing are responsible for evaluating applications for nurse licensure, issuing and renewing nursing licenses, and taking disciplinary actions when needed. Other responsibilities that a board of nursing might take on, depending on the state, include:

  • Authorizing the use of licensing examinations
  • Approving nursing education programs that meet established criteria
  • Offering advice to the legislature about determining the legal scope of nursing practice in the state
  • Regulating nurse aides/nursing assistants and medication aides/assistants working in nursing home and home health care settings

State Nursing Boards and APRN Licensing

Just as every state has its requirements for RN licensing, each state also sets its own requirements for licensing APRNs, while also determining the legal scope of practice for APRNs and establishing the APRN roles and titles recognized in the state.

Variations in state laws for APRNs and the confusion they have created for both nurses and consumers has led a coalition of nursing organizations led by the NCSBN to develop the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation, which is an attempt to standardize APRN licensure requirements and scope of practice nationwide.

In recent years, most states boards of nursing have adopted at least some part of the NCSBN’s APRN Consensus Model. As of March 2017, nursing boards in 16 states plus the District of Columbia allow APRNs to independently prescribe certain drugs, diagnose and treat patients without direct physician oversight or a collaborative agreement in place. This widespread trend to adopt the consensus model strongly suggests that additional state boards of nursing will soon tailor their regulations to match this model.

Alabama

Alabama Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice for CNS
  • Licensing for CNP, CNA, and CNM, but Not Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • Alabama APN Scope of Practice

Alaska

Alaska Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for All APNs: CNP, CRNA, CNS, CNM
  • Alaska APN Scope of Practice
    • CNP: Article 4 Sections 430 and 440
    • CRNA: Article 5

Arizona

Arizona State Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for CNP and CNM (licensed as a population focus of CNP)
  • Independent Practice Without Prescriptive Authority for CNS
  • Licensing for CRNA, but Not Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • Arizona APRN Scope of Practice Article 5 (page 42)

Arkansas

Arkansas State Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice Authority for CNP and CNS, but No Prescriptive Authority
  • Licensing for CRNA and CNM without Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • Arkansas APRN Scope of Practice
  • Collaborative Practice Agreements

California

California Board of Registered Nursing

  • Independent Practice, but No Prescriptive Authority for CRNA
  • Licensing for CNP, CNM, and CNS but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • California APN Scope of Practice
  • CNP
  • CNM
  • CNS

Colorado

Colorado Board of Nursing

Connecticut

Connecticut Department of Public Health

Delaware

Delaware Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for CNP and CRNA
  • Independent Practice, but No Prescriptive Authority for CNM
  • Licensing for CNS, but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • Delaware APRN Scope of Practice Section 1935

District of Columbia

DC.gov Department of Health

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for All APRNs: CNP, CNRA, CNM, and CNS
  • DC APRN Scope of Practice Subchapter VI page 37

Florida

Florida Board of Nursing

Georgia

Georgia Board of Nursing

Hawaii

Hawaii Board of Nursing

Idaho

State of Idaho Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for All APRNs: CNP, CNRA, CNM, and CNS

Illinois 

Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation – Nursing

Indiana

Indiana State Board of Nursing

Iowa

Iowa Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for All ARNPs: CNP, CNRA, CNM, and CNS

Kansas

Kansas State Board of Nursing

Kentucky

Kentucky Board of Nursing

Louisiana

Louisiana State Board of Nursing

Maine

Maine State Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for CNP and CNM
  • Independent Practice for CNS, but No Prescriptive Authority
  • Licensing for CNRA, but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • Maine APRN Scope of Practice

Maryland

Maryland Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice for CNP and CNM, but No Prescriptive Authority
  • Independent Practice for CNS, but No ability to prescribe
  • Licensing for CRNA, but No Independent Practice or ability to prescribe
  • Maryland APRN Scope of Practice: CNP, CNM, CNS, CRNA
  • Maryland CRNA Collaborative Agreement

Massachusetts

Mass.gov Board of Registration in Nursing

Michigan

Michigan Board of Nursing

Minnesota

Minnesota Board of Nursing

Mississippi

Mississippi Board of Nursing

Missouri

Missouri Board of Nursing

Montana

Montana Board of Nursing

Nebraska

Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services – Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for CNP, CNM and CRNA
  • Independent Practice for CNS, but No Ability to Prescribe
  • Nebraska APRN Scope of Practice

Nevada

Nevada State Board of Nursing

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for CNP, CRNA, and CNM
  • Licensing for CNS, but Not Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • New Hampshire APRN Scope of Practice

New Jersey

New Jersey Board of Nursing

  • Licensing for CNP, CNM, and CNS, but No Independent Practice
  • CNP, CNM, and CNS Have Prescriptive Authority if They Have a Collaborative Agreement
  • Licensing for CRNA, but No Independent Practice or Ability to Prescribe
  • New Jersey APN Scope of Practice Page 52

New Mexico

New Mexico Board of Nursing

New York

New York State Office of the Professions – Nursing

North Carolina

North Carolina Board of Nursing

North Dakota

North Dakota Board of Nursing

Ohio

State of Ohio Board of Nursing

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice for APRN roles CNP, CNM, and CNS, but No Prescriptive Authority
  • Licensing for CRNA, but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority

Oregon

Oregon State Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for APRN roles CNP, CRNA, and CNS
  • Prescriptive Authority Required for CNP but Optional for CRNA and CNS
  • Oregon CNP Scope of Practice Section 851-050-005

Pennsylvania

State Board of Nursing

Rhode Island

State of Rhode Island Department of Health – Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for APRN roles CNP and CRNA
  • Independent Practice for CNS, but No Prescriptive Authority

South Carolina

South Carolina Board of Nursing

  • Licensing for All APRNs: CNP, CRNA, CN, and CNS, but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority

South Dakota

South Dakota Board of Nursing

  • Licensing for APRN roles CNP and CNM, but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority
  • Licensing for APRN roles CRNA and CNS, but No Independent Practice or ability to prescribe
  • South Dakota CNP Collaborative Agreement

Tennessee

Tennessee Board of Health

  • Licensing for All APNs: CNP, CRNA, CN, and CNS,
  • APNs Can Apply for Prescriptive Authority if They Have Taken the Required Pharmacology Classes

Texas

Texas Board of Nursing

  • Licensing for All APRNs: CNP, CRNA, CN, and CNS, but No Independent Practice
  • Texas APRNs Can Apply for Prescriptive Authority
  • Texas APRN Scope of Practice

Utah

Utah Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for All APRNs: CNP, CRNA, CN, and CNS

Vermont

Vermont Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for All APRNs: CNP, CRNA, CN, and CNS

Virginia

Virginia Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for CRNA
  • Licensing for APRN Roles CNP, CNS and CNM, but No Independent Practice or Automatic Prescriptive Authority
  • CNP Can Apply for Prescriptive Authority

Washington

Washington State Department of Health Nursing Commission

West Virginia

West Virginia RN Board

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for APRN roles CRNA and CNS
  • Independent Practice for CNP and CNM, but No Prescriptive Authority
  • West Virginia APRN Scope of Practice

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice for APNP Roles CNP, CRNA, and CNS, but No Prescriptive Authority
  • Licensing for CNM, but No Independent Practice or Prescriptive Authority

Wyoming

Wyoming State Board of Nursing

  • Independent Practice and Prescriptive Authority for APRN Roles CRNA, CNM, and CNS
  • Independent Practice for CNP, but No Prescriptive Authority

Back to Top

Search & Compare Nursing Programs