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Navigating the Nursing Profession in Tennessee

Updated: Sep 12, 2022



Let us help you land on your dream job here in Tennessee! Read on this article to know more about the licensing process in Tennessee, and more!


 

Through this article, you will be able to know the following:

  • Fees for the licensing

  • Licensing renewal process (step-by-step)

  • Requirements for Continuing Education in Nursing

  • Licensing and certification

  • Job and Salary Expectations of Nurses in Tennessee

  • Popular hospitals in Tennessee

  • Nursing associations in Tennessee

  • Contact details



 

Fees for the Licensing

The table below shows the required payments for the licensing, whether you are a first-time nurse, applying by endorsement, or renewing your license. For more details, visit the Tennessee licensing page

Type of LicenseApplication FeeNCLEX FeeCriminal Background Check FeeFirst-time nurse (by examination)N/A(fee eliminated as of 08/05/19)$35.15Already a Registered Nurse (by endorsement)RN/LPN: $115N/A$35.15License Renewal$50N/AN/A

As a nursing compact state, Tennessee lets nurses hold multi-state licenses.


*Fees may change without any notice.


 

Licensing Renewal Process

  1. Check when your license expires by visiting the Tennessee Board of Nursing website. Tennessee has a Verification page for you to verify your license.

  2. Complete all your continuing education requirements BEFORE your license expires.

  3. Apply for your renewal process by going to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. You may check on the Renewal Information page for more specific information. Be reminded that if your Primary State of Residency is not Tennessee, you can not apply for a licensure in Tennessee because it is a compact state. You must declare that Tennessee is your Primary State of Residency to be able to do so.



 

Requirements for Continuing Education in Nursing

The following are the Continuing Education Requirements for nurses in Tennessee.

  • For RN/LPN, every 2 years, you need to complete a combination of 2 from the list below:

  • Five hours of continuing education and 10 hours if not practicing

  • Copy of satisfactory employer evaluation

  • Documentation from a school of nursing that shows participation in the education of nursing students (RNs only)

  • Evidence of successfully retaken NCLEX

  • Proof of current national certification

  • Transcript to show 2 hours of nursing credit

  • Letter of satisfactory completion of a comprehensive nursing orientation program

  • Letter of completion of a nursing refresher course

  • A published article relevant to nursing published by the licensee

  • Evident of 2 nursing goals and how you met them

  • A letter from an agency where you volunteered as a nurse

  • Letter from a patient to show great patient/nurse relationship

  • Letter from a peer evaluating your professional performance

  • Written self-evaluation based on the set standards

  • Contract of re-appointment or renewal to a nursing position

  • For APRN, you must renew your license every 2 years.

  • APRN With Certificate of Fitness (CF): Click this link to verify your license and your CF.

  • Five hours of continuing education and 10 hours if not practicing

  • Current national certification (NOT state license; example: from ANCC, AANP, NBCRNA)

  • ONE item from the Registered Nurse proof of competence above (in addition to national certification)

  • TWO contact hours of continuing education designed specifically to address controlled substance prescribing practices including the Tennessee Chronic Pain Guidelines http://tn.gov/health/article/nursing-coedu

  • Copy of current collaborative Request/APRN Supervisory Request (formerly Notice and Formulary) if prescribing https://lars.tn.gov/datamart/mainMenu.do

  • APRN Without Certificate of Fitness (CF)

  • Current national certification (NOT state license; example: from ANCC, AANP, NBCRNA)

  • ONE item from the Registered Nurse proof of competence above (in addition to national certification)

The Tennessee Board of Nursing accepts courses that are ANCC accredited.

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Licensing and Certification


Step 1: Education


To earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), you must attend an accredited institution that offers ADN for 18-24 months. You can also take a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree in an accredited institution. These programs typically take 4 to 5 years to complete. If you have an ADN but you wanna pursue your bachelor’s, there are certain programs that let you earn your BSN in 12 to 18 months. There is also an RN to BSN program that will take one year for you to earn the degree. Said programs let you save on time and money as you work towards advancing your career.


Step 2: Licensing


Six weeks before your graduation, you can start the process of your application for the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam is composed of 75-265 items and you will be given a limit of 5 hours to finish all of it. Failing the exam does not necessarily mean that you do not have the chance anymore. After your first try, you just have to wait for 45 days and you can apply again.

The scope of NCLEX includes questions about: (1) health promotion and maintenance; (2) safe and effective care environment; (3) physiology and integrity; and (4) psychology and integrity.


Step 3: Experience


This time, you must learn how to take the opportunities in gaining first-hand experiences in dealing with patients, with colleagues and superiors, and with the different situations that you might face. These invaluable experiences will make you more attractive to bigger employers in the future.

Step 4: Certification


Your last step is to obtain certifications for your chosen career. There are different requirements for earning a certification, depending on your preferences so it is important to check with the governing provider for information. You can attend several trainings, seminars or workshops in varied institutions for this purpose.

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Job and Salary Expectations of Nurses in Tennessee

Shortage of healthcare professionals, specifically nurses, has been a perennial issue in the country. This makes nurses highly in demand during this period of time. This profession will increase by about 9% from 2020 to 2030. The average annual salary is currently $66,680.


Let us help you check out average wages of nurses to help determine if Tennessee is the right place for you.



 

Popular Hospitals in Tennessee

Still not decided on whether to work as a nurse in Tennessee or not? This list of the best hospitals in the state will surely help you make that decision to go in the right direction. U.S. News and World Report made a list of the best and popular hospitals in Tennessee. Here are some of them:

  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center – (Nashville, TN):

  • Regionally ranked #1 in Tennessee and in Nashville

  • Ranked No. 20 on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll

  • Nationally ranked in 9 adult and 10 pediatric specialties

  • Rated high performing in 4 adult specialties and 16 procedures and conditions

  • General medical and surgical facility and a teaching hospital

  • Part of the Magnet Recognition Program®

  • Specialities include Ear, Nose & Throat (#10 in the nation), Urology (#14 in the nation), Cardiology & Heart Surgery (#17 in the nation), and Neonatology (#17 in the nation).

  • Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis – (Memphis, TN):

  • Regionally ranked #2 in Tennessee and #1 in Memphis

  • Rated high performing in 11 adult procedures and conditions

  • General medical and surgical facility and a teaching hospital

  • Specialties include Colon & Lung cancer surgery, Heart attack & Heart failure, Diabetes, and Hip & Knee replacement

  • CHI Memorial Hospital – (Chattanooga, TN):

  • Regionally ranked #2 in Tennessee and #1 in Chattanooga

  • Rated high performing in 11 adult procedures and conditions

  • General medical and surgical facility

  • Specialties include Colon & Lung cancer, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair, Heart Bypass, and Stroke

  • University of Tennessee Medical Center – (Knoxville, TN):

  • Regionally ranked #2 in Tennessee and #1 in Knoxville

  • Rated high performing in 11 adult procedures and conditions

  • General medical and surgical facility

  • Specialties include Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Kidney Failure, Stroke, Orthopedics, and Pulmonology & Lung Surgery.

  • Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital – (Nashville, TN):

  • Regionally ranked #5 in Tennessee and #2 in Nashville

  • Rated high performing in 11 adult procedures and conditions

  • General medical and surgical facility

  • Specialties include Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Stroke, Orthopedics, and Pulmonology & Lung Surgery.

*The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards Magnet Status to Hospitals that apply and meet certain criteria. This award is also considered as the “gold standard” for excellence in nursing practice and care.


 

Nursing Associations in Tennessee

Becoming a member of a nursing association opens a lot of opportunities to your career growth. It gives you the advantages of varied job offers and networking, and a bunch of information and experiences shared between you and your fellow nurses. Through these organizations, learning and professional growth never stop. Listed below are just a few of the nursing organizations that you can find and join once you are in Tennessee.

Tennessee Nurses Association: “This nursing association aims to empower the registered nurses, lead in the nursing practice, and become the best in quality care equity for all citizens of Tennessee.”

Tennessee Nurse Practitioner Association: “This organization is committed to promoting high quality healthcare services through empowerment of nurse practitioners within the state.”

Tennessee Student Nurses Association: “ One of the objectives of this group is to represent students and communicate with them for their readiness for the initial Licensure Exam as Registered Nurses.”

For more information about the nursing associations, you may visit the comprehensive list of national organizations as well.