Registering as a Texas Nurse from Another State

To paraphrase Berkeley Breathed, Texas needs nurses! One recent study showed that by 2030, Texas’s demand for nurses will substantially outpace its supply – to the tune of a 15,900 practitioner deficit. With that demand in mind, and because this author is the proud brother of an out-of-state RN who was recently accepted to nurse practitioner school, an article discussing the nurse license registration process for practitioners moving to Texas seemed appropriate. Also – it should be noted that because the author’s sister lives in Minnesota, a non-party to the Nurse Licensure Compact, the applicability of multi-state licensure through the Compact is not discussed here.

License Requirements

Like nearly every professional licensing statute, the Texas Nursing Practice Act contains a prohibition against unlicensed practice. It states that a person may not practice or offer to practice professional nursing or vocational nursing in Texas unless a person is licensed under the Nursing Practice Act. While this prohibition clearly applies to unlicensed persons, it applies equally to individuals licensed as RNs and LVNs in other jurisdictions.

How complicated is it, in light of Texas’s reported need for nurses, to become licensed in Texas if you are already licensed in another state? Thankfully, it is not that difficult and the Board of Nursing has a web page devoted to just that purpose.

Application by Endorsement

Endorsement is defined as “[t]he process of issuing a permanent license without further examination to a nurse from another jurisdiction or licensing authority after determination is made that the applicant meets the same standards as those required of Texas nurses.” Under Section 301.260 of the Nursing Practice Act, an applicant from another state may obtain a temporary and permanent license without examination by endorsement. The statute provides that “[a]n applicant for licensure under [the Nursing Practice Act] who is licensed as a registered nurse or vocational nurse by another state may qualify for a temporary license by endorsement to practice as a registered nurse or vocational nurse, as applicable, by submitting to the [Board of Nursing]”:

  • an endorsement fee determined by the Board of Nursing;
  • a complete sworn application in the form prescribed by the Board of Nursing;
  • evidence that the person possessed, at the time of initial licensing as a nurse, the other qualifications necessary at that time to have been eligible to practice in Texas; and
  • proof of initial licensing by examination and proof that the license and any other license issued to the applicant by another state has not be suspended, revoked, canceled, surrendered, or other wise restricted.

Temporary licenses are valid for only 120 days, and a temporary license will be issued to eligible applicants within 15 business days of receipt of the completed application and the $186.00 fee. A holder of a temporary license obtained by endorsement is entitled to receive a permanent license if the applicant (i) verifies the applicant’s academic and professional credentials; and (ii) satisfies any other requirement established by statute. The Board of Nursing is required to grant or deny an application for permanent licensure not later than the 180th day after the date the board receives all required forms and information. That said, the board can extend that deadline to allow for the receipt and tabulation of examination results.

Criminal Background Check

A criminal background check must be completed for all applicants through both the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This background check requires an applicant to submit fingerprints to MorphoTrust. The Board of Nursing does not accept fingerprint cards or background check results mailed to the applicant or results that were completed through another facility. This is true even if a previous background check was performed through the Department of Public Safety and the FBI. Fingerprints should not be submitted to MorphoTrust until ten business days after the Board of Nursing receives an applicant’s application.

The Application Form – Paper and Digital

The Board of Nursing allows both online and paper applications for licensing by endorsement. Thankfully, the Board of Nursing’s website is quite well-designed, and the process of completing an application is very straightforward.

Summary and Conclusion

Given the shortage of nurses that Texas currently faces, it is a relief to see that the Board of Nursing has taken steps to ensure ease of licensing. That said, even this streamlined licensing process could be avoided if more states (I’m looking at you, Minnesota) became parties to the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact.