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Iowa Board of Nursing Requirements

Healthcare providers are pulling out all the stops to recruit and retain nursing staff as the shortage continues to grow throughout the country. Over 58% of healthcare facilities in Iowa reported a shortage of qualified applicants for nursing positions in a 2020 workforce demand survey, highlighting the severity of the issue in the state. The Iowa Board of Nursing is encouraging more people to join the ranks of its nursing workforce to fulfill the staffing shortage.

If you have been considering joining the healthcare industry, you can become a registered nurse in Iowa or a licensed practical nurse in the state. With the growing demand, the state’s nursing board is eager to fill the ranks with qualified professionals. To become a registered or licensed practical nurse, however, you must understand the nursing board requirements in Iowa. Even with rising demand, the state’s nursing board will always emphasize granting licenses only to professionals who meet the criteria it has set for RNs and LPNs.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Iowa

To become a registered nurse in Iowa, you must complete pre-licensure nursing education through a state board-approved program and apply for licensure via examination to obtain your license. After acquiring your license, you must complete nursing continuing education courses to renew your credentials and continue practicing as an RN in Iowa.

Complete Your Pre-Licensure Nursing Education 

To become an RN in Iowa, you must graduate from a registered nursing program approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing. You can choose a two-year Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for this purpose. While you can apply for state licensure after obtaining either nursing education degree, many people choose to pursue a BSN to become a more attractive prospect for potential employers in Iowa.

Since a four-year program offers more in-depth training and education, you can become better qualified for a higher-paying position when you become a registered nurse in Iowa. Regardless of the path you choose, the program must be approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing. You can find a list of approved BSN programs on the board’s official website here. The board has also published a list of approved ADN programs here.

Apply for State Licensure via Examination 

After earning your pre-licensure nursing degree, you will become eligible to apply for state licensure to become an RN in Iowa via examination. The next step is to register for the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN is a nationally recognized licensing exam for RNs. You must register with Pearson VUE for the NCLEX-RN and submit an application to the board’s official website through the link here.

Obtain Your License to Become a Registered Nurse 

After you take the NCLEX-RN, you must wait for the board to review your all of your documents prior to issuing your license. To check whether you have passed the NCLEX-RN exam, visit the official website, sign in, and request information about your license verification. The Iowa Board of Nursing typically takes two to three weeks to process the application after it receives all the required documentation.

How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse 

The pre-licensure educational requirements for becoming a licensed practical nurse in Iowa are different than becoming an RN, and understanding the nursing board requirements in Iowa to become an LPN is essential. This section of the guide will tell you the steps to become a licensed practical nurse in Iowa.

Complete Your Pre-Licensure Nursing Education to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse 

If you have a high school diploma, you can complete a one-year practical nursing program approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing. You can find a complete list of practical nursing programs approved by the state’s nursing board on its official website here.

Apply for State Licensure via Examination

After earning your pre-licensure nursing degree from a state board-approved program, you can apply for a state license to become an LPN in Iowa via examination. To become an LPN, you must register with Pearson VUE for the National Council of Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). It is the nationally recognized licensing exam for licensed practical nurses in the US. When you register for the NCLEX-PN, you must also submit an application to the state board for your license through the link here.

Obtain Your License to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse 

After you pass the NCLEX-PN, the Iowa Board of Nursing will review all your documents to determine whether you qualify to become a licensed practical nurse in Iowa. The board typically takes two to three weeks to review documents and issue a license to qualified applicants.

Nursing Continuing Education Courses to Renew Your RN or LPN License

Your educational requirements do not end once you obtain your RN or LPN license in Iowa. To ensure the highest standards of patient care, nursing boards throughout the US require RNs and LPNs to renew their licenses after every two to three years. A critical part of license renewal is to complete a required number of contact hours through nursing continuing education courses. Each state’s nursing board specifies the nursing continuing education requirements for RNs and LPNs to renew their credentials.

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