Nursing Licensure: Legal Requirements, Revocation, Suspension, and Credentialing

Instructor: Jennifer Mitchell

Jennifer is a clinical professor for nursing students in critical care and has several years of experience in teaching nursing.

So you are interested in becoming a nurse. A nursing license is an important required credential for the job. In this lesson, we will discuss the legal requirements, revocation, suspension, and credentialing for nurse licensure.

Do You Want to be a Nurse?

Getting your license to practice as a nurse is a huge accomplishment. You've went through two to four years of school to obtain your associate's or bachelor's degree, countless papers and exams, and hours totaling up to days in clinicals practicing. Now you are at the point of getting your actual license, and in order to achieve licensure, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN, which is the nursing certification and licensure exam.

Let's take a look at all the different aspects of licensure, including the legal requirements, revocation, suspension, and credentialing for once you become an RN.

Legal Requirements

In order to take the NCLEX-RN, you must graduate from a nursing school that is certified to teach nursing. Then, you must obtain an Authorization to Test (ATT) by putting in an application to your Board of Nursing (BON) and register with the testing board, or Pearson VUE. Once you receive your ATT you can register and take the NCLEX-RN.

Unofficial results can be viewed 48 hours after you take the exam for a small fee. Once you have passed, you may begin working as a nurse orientee with an RN preceptor. Your nurse license is good for 2 years and must be renewed before the end of your birth month, and the first renewal may come early depending upon the year you were born. You will receive a postcard in the mail letting you know when your license needs to be renewed. So keep your address current with your BON!

The first time you renew your license you are not required to complete continuing nursing education (CNE) hours, but for all the other renewals (every 2 years), you will need CNE hours. These hours vary by state and can be found on your state BON website. Many of these hours can be obtained through classes from your employer, but there are many free sources available online.


After all that effort, would you want to risk losing your nursing license? No! There are several things that could cause you to have your license revoked. These include but are not limited to:

  • Stealing and abusing drugs
  • Impersonating another healthcare provider
  • Using a fake license
  • Committing mail fraud
  • Falsifying patient records
  • Acting unprofessionally
  • Posting questionable material on the internet, such as pornography
  • Abusing or neglecting patients
  • Violating a pre-existing probation or suspension

If you have any recorded history of committing these acts, they must be reported to your BON before applying to take the NCLEX-RN.


Suspension may not be as big a deal as revocation of your nursing license, but it can lead to revocation if you don't right your wrongs. Just like revocation, there are many things that could cause suspension, and we'll only cover a few of them here. These actions are all included in the Nurse Practice Act (NPA) for your state as a guide for what not to do to put your license at risk. Actions include:

  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Performing duties outside of your scope of practice
  • Committing a felony
  • Not providing adequate care to a patient

More information and your state specific NPA can be found through your state's BON website. For both suspension and revocation, there is a process the BON follows for investigation, remediation, penalty, and disciplinary action.

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