District of Columbia Registered Nurse License Exam
To obtain licensure in The District of Columbia, Registered Nurses are required to take a nursing exam known as the National Council for Licensure Exam-RN (NCLEX-RN) which ensures the candidate is prepared for entry level nursing practice.
Need for a Registered Nurse License: A Registered Nurse is required to be licensed to practice nursing in The District of Columbia.
Who Grants a Registered Nurse License: Licenses are granted by The District of Columbia Board of Nursing.
Qualifications to receive a License: Applicants must graduate from an approved and accredited nursing program (diploma, associate, or baccalaureate degree) and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Applying for State Licensure and the NCLEX-RN Exam: The application process consists of two parts which are completed together: 1) applying for District of Columbia Licensure and 2) registering for the NCLEX-RN exam.
- First, complete and submit an Application for Licensure by Examination with The District of Columbia Board of Nursing. The application form may be downloaded online via The District of Columbia Board of Nursing website here and completed in ink.
- You will need to provide two passport-type photographs with your application.
- You will need to submit to a criminal background check and complete fingerprints, according to the directions on the application.
- Request an official copy of your transcript from your nursing school to be sent in a sealed envelope to the District of Columbia Board of Nursing (unofficial and/or electronic copies are not accepted). The address is DC Board of NursingP. O. Box 37802 Washington, DC 20013.
- Second, the NCLEX exam is administered by Pearson VUE. You must register to take the NCLEX exam, in addition to applying for Licensure. Registration can be done online via the Pearson VUE website. Alternatively, you may call Pearson VUE NCLEX Candidate services (toll-free) at1.866.49NCLEX (1.866.496.2539), Monday-Friday, 7 am to 7 pm, Central Standard Time.
- Once The District of Columbia Board of Registered Nursing provides clearance to Pearson VUE, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice from Pearson VUE. This allows you to schedule your exam at a convenient Pearson VUE location, typically within 90 days from receipt of the ATT.
Fees: There are fees for both a District of Columbia RN license and the NCLEX exam.
NCLEX-RN Exam Content: The NCLEX-RN exam is a computerized test which utilizes “adaptive testing.” This means that the computer will determine your level of competency throughout the exam and the number of questions will vary based upon your competency level. A minimum of 75 questions and a maximum of 265 questions are administered. At minimum, 60 questions will be scored and 15 questions will be practice questions. The test taker will not know which are scored and which are not. You will have a maximum of 6 hours to complete the exam.
There are two optional breaks after 2.5 and 3.5 hours, respectively.
There are four subject categories and several sub-categories for the NCLEX-RN exam. They are as follows:
- Safe, effective care environment
- Management of care
- Safety and infection control
- Psychosocial integrity
- Physiological integrity
- Health promotion and maintenance
- Basic care and comfort
- Pharmacologic and parenteral therapies
- Reduction of risk potential
- Physiological adaptation
The percentage of questions per subject area and difficulty levels will depend upon each individual candidate.
The NCLEX-RN results are pass/fail. Official results from the NCLEX-RN exam are delivered by the respective Board of Nursing within 2-4 weeks from the exam date. Unofficial results may be obtained 48 business hours after the exam through Pearson Vue Quick Results. There is a small fee for this service. If you do not pass the exam, you will receive a diagnostic profile which outlines your performance on the exam and will need to retake the exam at a later date.
Who Administers the Exam: The NCLEX-RN exam is developed and approved by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The test is administered at Pearson VUE testing locations.
License Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements: Your District of Columbia license will expire by June 30th of even-numbered years and the renewal can be completed online. You will be required to complete 24 hours of continuing education with each renewal period.