RN Licensure for Foreign-Trained Nurses

In the United States, if you wish to work as a Registered Nurse (RN) or enroll in nursing programs such as the Master of Nursing (MN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs at the UW (which have hands-on clinical components), you must have a license from the state where you intend to work or go to school.  Each state within the U.S. (Washington, Oregon, California, etc.) has a board of nursing that oversees RN licenses. In Washington State, the nursing board is called the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission and is located in the state capital of Olympia, Washington.

If you need a current Washington State RN license for your desired program of study and do not yet have one, you should initiate the process to get one as soon as possible.

If You Do NOT Have a U.S. RN License

The process for a foreign-trained nurse to get an RN license can vary by state. To become licensed as an RN in Washington State, nurses educated outside of the United States should refer to the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission's Registered Nurse License By Examination (Trained outside United States) forms.

If you live in Washington State, the Puget Sound Welcome Back Center at Highline Community College is a valuable resource for helping foreign-trained nurses get credentialed in Washington State. Because there is a high demand for their services, please be patient about getting a response.

The steps you need to complete are outlined on page 5 of the Application Packet. This process will determine if you are eligible to take the RN licensing exam National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) here in Washington State.  You must successfully pass the NCLEX-RN exam to be eligible for RN licensure. Be sure to allow enough time for this process.

You may also get a registered nursing license in another state in the U.S. and then transfer that license to Washington State through the process described below.

If You Have a U.S. RN License in a State Other Than Washington

If you are already licensed in one state in the U.S., many states, including Washington State, will allow you to apply for a RN license through a process called Registered Nurse License by Endorsement (look for the Registered Nurse by Endorsement forms).

Please take these steps as soon as possible. If your desired graduate program of study in the UW School of Nursing requires a RN license, you must be currently licensed in a state in the US in order to be eligible to apply to that program. If you are admitted to that program you are required to have a RN license in Washington State to be eligible to begin the program.