Steps to Becoming an APN in Tennessee

tennessee nursing

1Get your Graduate Degree in Tennessee
2Earn your National Certification in Tennessee
3Apply for your License in Tennessee
4Renewing your License in Tennessee

The Tennessee Board of Nursing (1-800-778-4123), under the Department of Health, regulates and certifies qualified registered nurses as advanced practice nurses (APN) in the following four roles:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

To work toward APN certification in Tennessee, you must first hold an active, unencumbered RN license. If you do not hold an active RN license in Tennessee (or Compact state*), you can obtain one by completing one of the following steps:

Tennessee Job Statistics

  • 2015 mean salary for NPs in TN: $93,520
  • 2013 NCLEX-RN pass rate for Tennessee: 86.6%
  • 2016 active RN licenses in TN: 94,791
  • 2016 active APN licenses in TN: 11,865
    • CNSs: 137
    • CRNAs: 2561
    • CNMs: 178
    • CNPs: 8989
  • If you are licensed in another jurisdiction, you may submit the Application for Licensure as a Registered Professional Nurse by Endorsement.
  • If you are a graduate of an approved RN school of nursing, you may apply for licensure by examination. These applications are made available to the Tennessee Schools of Nursing and are not available online.  You can request a packet by calling 1-800-778-4123.
  • If you are a professional nurse educated in a foreign country, your nursing education must be substantially the same as required by the Board for graduates of nursing in Tennessee. You must also hold a Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools certificate. The Board of Nursing will send a foreign nursing examination application packet after you complete and submit this questionnaire.

*Nurse Licensure Compact – Tennessee is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. The Compact offers practice privileges for registered nurses in all compact states (which includes: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin). If you reside in Tennessee and you hold a Tennessee multistate nursing license, you will have the “multistate privilege to practice” in any other Compact state.


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

To work toward your APN certificate in Tennessee, you must graduate with a master’s degree or higher in a nursing specialty.

To work toward your APRN license in Tennessee, you must complete an advanced practice nursing education program (post baccalaureate) that is accredited by a national accrediting body. You can review institutional, programmatic, and specialized accrediting agencies listed in the United States Department of Education (USDE) database of recognized accrediting bodies to confirm that your master’s, post-baccalaureate certificate, or doctorate program meets accreditation standards.

Since national certification through a Board-recognized certifying body is a condition for APRN licensure, you may defer to your certifying body of choice to verify that your advanced practice nursing program of choice meets accreditation standards (see Step 2 for information on Board-recognized certifying bodies).

Course Requirements

In accordance with the national APRN Consensus Model, advanced practice nursing programs must include the following core courses:

  • Advanced pathophysiology/physiology (that includes general principles applicable across the human lifespan)
  • Advanced health assessment (that includes assessment of all systems of the body, advanced assessment methods, techniques, and concepts)
  • Advanced pharmacology (that includes pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacotherapeutics of broad categories of agents)

If you intend to become licensed as a CNM or CRNA, your population or specialty will be incorporated in your coursework. If you are pursuing NP or CNS licensure, you can expect coursework to cover the six main population foci:

  • Family/individual health across the lifespan
  • Adult health and gerontology
  • Neonatology
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s health and gender-related health
  • Psychiatric mental health

A master’s degree is not required if:

  • You received your national certification in your advanced practice role and your Tennessee RN license before July 1, 2005

OR

  • You received your national certification in your advanced practice role; your RN license with a multistate licensure privilege to practice in Tennessee before July 1, 2005 and you currently hold additional subspecialty certification.

You must also successfully complete the pharmacology requirements set forth by the Board, which includes three quarter hours or its equivalent.


Step 2. Earn Your National Certification

After the successful completion of an education program in your APN specialty, you must become certified through a national credentialing body in your advanced practice nursing specialty:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

The following certifying bodies for APNs are recognized by the Tennessee Board of Nursing:


Step 3. Apply for your License

To apply for APN certification in Tennessee, you must complete the Application for Advanced Practice Nurse Certificate.

In addition to a completed application, you must:

  • Attach one recent passport-type (2”x 2”) color photograph to the application, which must include your legal signature on the front of the photograph (your signature should not conceal your face).
  • Sign the affidavit found at the bottom of page 3 in the presence of a Notary Public.
  • Contact the college or university where you obtained your advanced nursing degree and request that they forward an official transcript directly to the Board of Nursing.
  • Contact the national certifying body and request that they forward verification of your national certification directly to the Board of Nursing.
  • Complete the Mandatory Practitioner Profile Questionnaire found at the end of the application.
  • Attach a check or money order in the amount of $210 ($200 certificate fee and $10 state regulatory fee) made payable to the “Tennessee Board of Nursing.”
  • Attach a copy of your RN license.

Mail the completed application and the above documents to the: Tennessee Board of Nursing, 227 French Landing, Suite 300, Heritage Place, Metro Center, Nashville, TN 37243.

Prescriptive Privileges

All APNs in Tennessee are granted a certificate of fitness to prescribe and/or issue legend drugs. Prescriptive authority is part of the APN application, and there is no separate certificate number for prescribing privileges.

A nurse may be granted an APN certificate without prescriptive authority only in certain situations where the nurse does not meet the pharmacology qualification.

If you are a nurse anesthetist, you need only apply for APN practice, unless you plan to write and sign prescriptions, then you must hold an APN certificate with a certificate of fitness.

If you plan to prescribe or order controlled substances as an APN in Tennessee, you must first obtain a DEA number by contacting the Drug Enforcement Agency at 1-800-882-9539.


Step 4. Renewing Your License

Your APN certificate renewal is separate from your RN license renewal. You may apply for your APN renewal up to 120 days prior to the expiration date of your certificate. The fee for biennial APN renewal is $100. You must show evidence of your national certification upon renewal.

You can renew both your RN license and your APN license on the Tennessee Department of Health’s Online License Renewal & Information Update page. You may also make changes to your address here, as well.

Lapsed License

In order to reinstate your lapsed APN certificate in Tennessee, you must contact the Board of Nursing at 1-800-778-4123 for a reinstatement application and pay the APN reinstatement fee of $100 (in addition to the renewal fee of $100).

Retirement Status

If you want to retire from your APN role in Tennessee, you must complete the Affidavit of Retirement from Practice in Tennessee and have the form notarized in the presence of a Notary Public. There is no fee for this service.

Advanced Practice Nurse Associations in Tennessee

There are a number of professional organizations that support APNs in Tennessee:


Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Salary

The 2011 National NP Compensation Survey conducted by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners shows that NPs in the southeastern United States, including Tennessee, earned an average base salary of $87,653 and an average total income of $96,916. According to a salary survey conducted by Advance for NPs & PAs in 2011, nurse practitioners in Memphis and Knoxville earned average base salaries of $82,127 and $83,642 respectively. Some of the best compensated NPs in Tennessee practice in Nashville, where the average salary was $83,939 in 2011.

Nurse Practitioner Salary

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Chattanooga
700
101280
Clarksville
140
103820
Cleveland
100
100380
East Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
210
89030
Jackson
230
86480
Johnson City
370
95900
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol
290
103940
Knoxville
1220
99550
Memphis
1480
109440
Morristown
70
118610
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin
3140
98590
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
260
99190
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
140
101130
West Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
300
87060

Registered Nurse Salary

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Chattanooga
6270
60640
Clarksville
1220
64990
Cleveland
520
53790
East Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
1520
56240
Jackson
2450
56800
Johnson City
2400
64200
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol
2500
57720
Knoxville
7960
59430
Memphis
14000
68300
Morristown
630
57640
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin
18210
68130
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
2680
62810
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
1370
57520
West Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
1980
58240

Nursing Instructors and Teachers Salary

Area Name
Employment
Annual median wage
Chattanooga
90
61630
Jackson
30
57320
Knoxville
110
72370
Memphis
120
75040
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin
450
70950
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
70
71470
West Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
-
57610

Nurse Administrator Salary

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

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Chattanooga
940
108920
Clarksville
310
83710
Cleveland
50
81050
East Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
150
82210
Jackson
280
83540
Johnson City
310
105480
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol
270
88860
Knoxville
1310
92970
Memphis
1640
114550
Morristown
50
82150
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin
4070
112280
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
260
75090
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
250
79420
West Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
320
82760

Nurse Anesthetists Salary

Area Name
Employment
Annual mean wage
Chattanooga
60
133190
Jackson
90
178860
Knoxville
NA
179330
Memphis
610
168850
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin
NA
172970
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area
NA
126530

These tables provide salary and employment information compiled by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2020. 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.

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