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Washington DC

A Guide to Nursing in Washington, D.C.

You don’t have to be a member of Congress to have a power lunch. You can rub shoulders with the country’s bigwigs at the Blue Duck Tavern. There is also a wealth of museums through the Smithsonian Institute – all free. Favorites are the Museum of Space and Air and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Visit one of the plethora of monuments, memorials, and other cultural attractions.

If you are a registered nurse (or are thinking of becoming one) read on to find the information you need, from licensing info, continuing education requirements, job & salary outlook, top hospitals, and nursing associations. Let us help you find your dream job!

In this article, we will cover:

Licensing information

Below are the fees for becoming a nurse in the District of Columbia whether you are a first-time nurse or are moving to D.C. from another state. For more information visit the Washington, D.C. licensing page.

Licensing fees by examination (first-time nurses):

  • NCLEX exam fee: $200

  • Application fee: $187 (RN/LPN)

  • Criminal background check fee: $50

Licensing fee by endorsement (already have RN licensure):

  • Application fee: $230 (RN/LPN)

  • APRN fees (with one authority): $230 (APRN authority fee); $145 (RN license fee); $145 (each additional APRN authority); $130 (controlled substance authorization fee)

  • Criminal background check fee: $50

License renewal fees:

  • Application fee: $145 (LPN/RN); $263 (APRN)

*Fees are subject to change.


Steps for renewing a Washington, D.C. nursing license

  1. Verify the status of your license Visit the Verification page in order to confirm your license.

  2. Complete your Washington, D.C. nursing continuing education requirements before your license expires You can complete your nursing CEUs online, on your schedule, and 100% free with Incredible Health.

  3. Go to the Washington, D.C. Board of Nursing to enter your renewal application Visit the Renewal Information page for specifics.


Continuing education requirements

RN: 24 contact hours every 2 years (3 of which must be in HIV/AIDS and 2 hours of instruction in cultural competency focusing on patients who identify as LGBTQ)

LPN: 18 contact hours every 2 years (3 of which must be in HIV/AIDS and 2 hours of instruction in cultural competency focusing on patients who identify as LGBTQ)

APRN: 24 contact hours every 2 years (15 must be in pharmacology, 3 hours must be in HIV/AIDS and 2 hours of instruction in cultural competency focusing on patients who identify as LGBTQ)

Incredible Health offers ANCC-accredited continuing education courses for nurses in all 50 states, 100% free and online. The Washington, D.C. Board of Nursing accepts courses that are ANCC accredited.

Job & salary outlook for nurses in Washington, D.C.

Due to the shortage of nurses, these healthcare professionals are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates the profession will grow by about 9% between 2020-2030

We can also help you check out salary estimates to help determine if Washington, D.C. is the right place for you.

[ Looking for more information? Get instant salary estimates and personalized matches with high-paying nursing jobs. ]


Top hospitals in Washington, D.C.

If you’re not already picking up the phone to call movers, maybe this list of the best hospitals in Washington, D.C. will sway you in the right direction. Here are the top hospitals according to U.S. News and World Report:

  • Children’s National Hospital – Washington, D.C.: This hospital is a member of the Magnet Recognition Program® and is ranked No. 7 on the Best Children’s Honor Roll. It is nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties. Some specialties include:

    • Neonatology (#1 in the nation)

    • Pediatric Neurology & Neurosurgery (#3 in the nation)

    • Pediatric Cancer (#5 in the nation)

    • Pediatric Orthopedics (#6 in the nation)

  • George Washington University Hospital – Washington, D.C.: This facility is rated high performing in 5 adult procedures and conditions. Some specialties include:

    • Lung Cancer Surgery

    • Heart Attack

    • Heart Failure

    • Kidney Failure

  • Howard University Hospital – Washington, D.C.: This facility is rated high performing in 2 adult procedures and conditions. Some specialties include:

    • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

    • Pneumonia

*Magnet status – Awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is considered the “gold standard” for excellence in nursing practice and care. Hospitals must meet certain criteria and apply to be designated.


Nursing organizations & associations in Washington, D.C.

Once you become a registered nurse (or even if you’re in the process), joining a nursing organization or association will give you access to networking, job opportunities, and a wealth of information shared between fellow nurses. Here are a few of the organizations and associations for nurses in Washington, D.C.:

District of Columbia Nurses Association – “DCNA has been highly visible in the political and legislative arena. Addressing the public healthcare crisis was a top priority. DCNA pushed for healthcare reform on the local level, including the creation of a District-wide healthcare summit to define and coordinate programs.”

Nation League for Nursing – “Dedicated to excellence in nursing, the National League for Nursing is the premier organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education. “

Black Nurses Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area, Inc. – “The BNA of GWDCA acts as a vehicle for cohesion and solidarity among Black nurses to ensure the continuity of our common heritage.”

Check out the comprehensive list of national organizations as well.


Basic steps for licensing and certification

Step 1: Education

Attend an accredited nursing school to earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An ADN will take between 18 and 24 months to complete, while you can expect to spend roughly four years to earn a BSN. If you already have an ADN, there is an ADN to BSN bridge program that allows you to earn a BSN in 12-18 months. There is also an RN to BSN bridge which takes three semesters of nursing courses to be completed in one year. These programs will save you time and money. The more education you have, the better your chances of landing your dream job.

Step 2: Licensing

When you are six weeks away from graduation, you can apply to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. There are 75 to 265 questions on the NCLEX-RN with a five-hour time limit for completion. If you do not pass the NCLEX-RN on your first attempt, you must wait 45 days before you can try again.

The NCLEX includes questions on the following topics to test nursing candidates’ knowledge:

1. Safe and effective care environment

2. Health promotion and maintenance

3. Psychosocial integrity

4. Physiological integrity

Step 3: Experience

This step in the process is to gain hands-on experience. This will provide you with invaluable opportunities to work with patients making you attractive to future employers.

Step 4: Certification

The final step is to obtain certifications for your chosen career. Requirements for earning a certification vary so it is important to check with the governing body for information. Incredible Health offers free courses in order to obtain or renew certification requirements. Create a free account to access professional development mandates and get instant certificates.

Contact information

Washinton, D.C. Board of Nursing

Phone: (202) 442-5955

Fax: (202) 442-4795



899 North Capitol Street, NE

Washington, DC 20002

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