Nursing schools have been scrambling to find solutions to the state's nursing shortage since Hurricane Katrina. After that disaster, several hospitals shut down and some healthcare workers relocated across the border. Although Louisiana is rebuilding its infrastructure and attracting people to move back into the state, applications to the state's RN programs dropped by eight percent from 2010 to 2014 (a time when more nursing jobs were becoming available), according to a report by the Louisiana Center for Nursing. In the following guide, prospective nursing students can learn the steps to licensure, compare nursing programs head to head, and find out what RNs and advanced practice nurses can earn in Louisiana.
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Applying for a Louisiana Nursing License
Registered nurses who wish to work and practice in the state of Louisiana must apply for licensure through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. The Board also regulates compliance of nursing and healthcare professionals and ensures that nursing degree programs adhere to high standards. An overview of the state's licensure process is provided below:
Who Is Eligible for a License?
To be eligible for a nursing license in Louisiana, applicants must graduate from a nursing program approved by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing. After earning a degree, nurses must do the following to apply:
- Mail a notarized application along with a passport photo and $100 for licensure by examination to the board at least 60 days prior to graduating
- Arrange for official transcripts to be sent directly from the Board-approved school after graduation
- Register with Pearson VUE, pay the $200 fee to take the NCLEX-RN, and wait for authorization to test (ATT)
- Undergo a criminal background check by paying $40.75 to be fingerprinted
- Pass the NCLEX
Those who pass will receive their Louisiana nursing license. Those who fail to pass on the first try have three additional attempts and must pass within four years of graduation to be licensed. However, they must reapply and pay additional testing fees each time.
Practicing RNs who are moving into the state may apply for licensure by endorsement. To receive a license in this manner, nurses must have:
- A current RN license from another state
- A diploma or degree from a nursing program that either is approved by the state's nursing board or meets the state's educational requirements for nursing programs
- No disciplinary actions by another state's regulatory agency
The applicant can then fill out the application and send it with a passport photo and $140.75 to $250.75, depending on whether a temporary permit and quicker fingerprints are needed, to the state board. Forms verifying the information above — licensure, degree status, criminal record and employment status — must also be returned to the board.
How Louisiana Nurses Renew a License
Nursing licenses must be renewed online every year between October and December. The cost is $100 for RNs and $200 for advanced practice RNs (as they must renew both their RN and APRN license). A late fee of 50 percent is levied against January renewals.
Continuing education requirements are updated and published annually. For 2016, full-time nurses are expected to do at least five contact hours. It is the responsibility of individual nurse to meet the requisite contact hours, and the state audits three percent of nurses annually at random to show proof of continuing education. The Board therefore advises nurses to keep records of contact hours for five years.
How to Earn an APRN License in Louisiana
Nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives and registered nurse anesthetists must all be certified as advanced practice registered nurses in Louisiana. APRNs can get a license in the same way as RNs: either by examination or by endorsement.
Licensure by examination includes the following steps:
- Holding a Louisiana RN license
- Earning a graduate degree with a concentration in an advanced practice specialty
- Becoming nationally certified
- Submitting a notarized application, which also verifies the above information
- Paying $140.75 fee to apply and have a criminal background check run
Licensure by endorsement is available for APRNs who have already received a license in another state. In addition to the steps above, nurses applying for licensure by endorsement must verify their original and/or current APRN licensure.
Up-to-date details can be found at the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.
LA Nursing Salaries: A Statistical Overview
Registered nursing was the third-most popular job in Louisiana in 2014, with over 40,000 people employed. Due to higher education requirements, there are naturally far fewer APRNs, but the state of Louisiana compensates them highly, with some APRNs — nurse anesthetists, in particular — earning almost as much as certain types of doctors. Take a look at the figures below:
Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Louisiana
|Area||Hourly Median Wage||Annual Median Wage|
|Natchitoches nonmetropolitan area||$27.17||$56,510|
|New Iberia nonmetropolitan area||$27.13||$56,430|
|Winnsboro nonmetropolitan area||$26.44||$54,980|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Louisiana vs. National Numbers
|Year||Annual salary(25th percentile)||Annual salary(median)||Annual salary(75th percentile)||Annual salary(25th percentile)||Annual salary(median)||Annual salary(75th percentile)|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||$0||$0||$0||$0||$82,580||$96,970||$114,090|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||0||5,110|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||40||7,700|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||0||290|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central
Louisiana RN Resources
An affiliate of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, LANP works to support and promote nurse practitioners around the state. The membership, which is comprised of both practicing nurses and students, provides access to workshops, continuing education and financial awards.
Twenty-one schools are members of the Louisiana Association of Student Nurses, which provides scholarships based on both academic success and financial need. LASN also puts several events on its annual calendar, including community fundraisers and a convention.
The Louisiana Emergency Nurses Association, or LENA, puts out timely topic briefs on illness outbreaks, conducts review sessions for certified emergency nurses and gives out annual scholarships and research grants.
In addition to facilitating licensure, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, through its Louisiana Center for Nursing wing publishes comprehensive statistics on the state's workforce and student body. It also links new nurses to an online career center.
The American Nurses Association's branch in Lousiana, LSNA provides its members with continuing education opportunities. Members' fees go in part to funding LSNA's legislative advocacy work — the association even has its own political action committee to fund local and state candidates.