Nursing is a flexible career path, one that offers a dynamic ladder for advancement. In Virginia it is considered a high growth occupation nearly 15,000 new positions projected to be created between 2013 and 2020, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. Despite its growth, the state still ranks 45th in its per capita supply of nurses. An increasing demand for care means prospective nurses can punch their career ticket with the right education. Learn more about the occupational outlook for nursing, what it takes to earn a nursing license, and review individual nursing schools in Virginia.
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Applying for Licensure in Virginia
The Virginia Board of Nursing regulates the licensing process for all nurses in the state. To practice legally, RNs must apply for and hold an active license. The state offers two types of licensing options: licensure by examination and licensure for endorsement. The latter is designed for applicants who hold a nursing license in another state, while the former is for individuals who have not previously been licensed to practice in any state. Below is an overview of the licensing requirements and process for first-time applicants who are seeking an examination license.
- Graduate from a state-approved nursing education program
- Pass a fingerprint-based criminal background check
- Submit online application and pay application fee of $190
- Have an official transcript sent from the student's nursing education program that demonstrates the degree was awarded/will be awarded and the date it was or will be awarded
- Register with Pearson VUE and pay $200 for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
- Once the Board approves the application, applicants receive an Authorization to Test (ATT)
- Sit for and pass the NCELX-RN
Renewing an RN License in Virginia
The state of Virginia requires registered nurses to renew their licenses every two years. Individuals born in even-numbered years are required to renew by the last day of their birth month every even-numbered year, while those born in odd-numbered years do the same during odd-numbered years. In addition to submitting an application and paying the required fee, applicants must also complete continuing education requirements.
As of August 1, 2015, the Board of Nursing allows individuals to renew an active license if they meet one of the following requirements:
- Hold current certification from a national certifying organization
- Complete at least three credit hours of academic education in a nursing field of study at an accredited university
- Take a state board-approved nursing refresher course
- Complete a research-based, nursing related research project or study
- Teach a 3-credit hour course in nursing
- Teach or develop nursing continuing education classes for up to 30 contact hours
- Participate in at least fifteen contact hours of continuing education and an additional 640 hours of active nursing practice
- Participate in at least 30 contact hours of continuing education coursework
Licensing for Virginia APRNs
To qualify for licensure as an advanced practice nurse, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Hold an active and current RN license in Virginia or a multi-state RN license
- Submit verification of a graduate degree in nursing or educational preparation in the selected advanced nursing field
- Provide verification of national certification in the specialty area of practice
- Submit an online application and pay a fee of $125
Licenses must be renewed every two years and requires active professional certification and completion of at least 40 hours of continuing education credits in the designated specialty area.
Those looking for more information on registered nurses, including APRNs, can visit the Virginia Board of Nursing.
A Look at Nursing Employment in Virginia
Although the state graduated more than 3,200 students in both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in 2014, Virginia cannot produce trained, qualified nurses quickly enough. Even with approximately 92,000 licensed registered nurses and 5,800 advanced practice nurses in the state—notes the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and Virginia Nurses Association—an acute need for bedside and primary nursing care exists in every healthcare specialization and setting. This service gap is a primary driver of employment growth for the nursing profession. Each of the major nursing fields are projected to experience double digit occupational growth between 2012 and 2022, led by 40 percent growth for nurse practitioners. Take a deeper dive into the career numbers for Virginia's nurses:
Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Virginia
|Area||Hourly Median Wage||Annual Median Wage|
|Northwestern Virginia nonmetropolitan area||$29.11||$60,550|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC||$29.11||$60,540|
|Southside Virginia nonmetropolitan area||$25.98||$54,040|
|Northeastern Virginia nonmetropolitan area||$25.04||$52,090|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Virginia 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||$79,000||$88,400||$97,590||$0||$82,580||$96,970||$114,090|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||120||5,110|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||190||7,700|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||10||290|
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central
Virginia Nurses Resources
The Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists is a membership organization that works to advance the practice of nurse anesthesia in the state. It holds regular networking events, educational workshops, and advocates on behalf of nurse anesthetists via a government relations committee.
The Virginia Association of Rehabilitation Nurses (VARN) is the state-based professional organization of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses. Through memberships, conferences, a professional journal, and online forum—the VARN supports the work of individuals in rehabilitation nursing.
The Virginia Association of School Nurses is the state arm of the National Association of School Nurses. Through eight regional offices, the organization encourages the professional development of school nurses through continuing education courses, publishes an industry newsletter, connects school nurses through networking events, and hosts an annual conference.
The Virginia Board of Nursing is the regulating body for the practice of nursing in the state of Virginia—from approving and renewing licenses to handling complaints, establishing professional guidelines and standards to approving nursing programs.
The Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners is a state-based professional organization for licensed nurse practitioners in the state. It is a council of the Virginia Nurses Association and has more than 1,700 members. The council works in public policy and legislative action on behalf of its members, connects members to job opportunities, and provides continuing professional development opportunities.
The Virginia Nurses Association (VNA) is a state branch of the American Nurses Association and represents more than 100,000 registered nurses in the state of Virginia. As the professional nursing organization, the VNA approves continuing education programs, advocates for registered nurses, and keeps members abreast of the latest industry trends and news.
Comprised of student nurses from more than 75 nursing programs in the state, the Virginia Nursing Students' Association is a student-led organization. The VNSA supports the growth of future nurses in the state through scholarships, career networking, and mentoring and leadership opportunities.
The Virginia Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders (VONEL) focuses on improving the management and administration of nursing practice in the state. A membership-based organization, the VONEL supports professional development opportunities, hosts regular conferences, provides scholarships, and offers a career center.
The Virginia Emergency Nurses Association represents the interests of more than 1,400 nurses working in emergency care in the state. The organization offers memberships, a career center, scholarships, and continuing education courses and workshops.