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Board of Nursing

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About the Board of Nursing

The Board of Nursing was created in 1911 by an act of the State Legislature and signed into law by former Governor Ben W. Hooper. The board’s mission is to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of Tennesseans by requiring that all who practice nursing within this state are qualified and licensed to practice.

Board responsibilities center around three broad functions—licensure, education and practice. The board grants licenses to licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and advanced practice nurses (certificate) who meet the requirements of the statutes and rules. Only graduates of approved schools of nursing are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is required for licensure.

 Legislation passed in 2009 authorized the board to issue a Medication Aide Certificate to nurse aides with additional training in a board approved medication administration program.  Medication Aides must successfully complete the Medication Aid Certification Examination (MACE) for licensure.

Registered and practical nurses may be licensed by examination or endorsement from another state. Once licensed, nurses renew their licenses every two years. Renewal notices are mailed from the administrative office forty-five days prior to expiration of the license to the current address on file. Licensees are responsible for renewing on time and keeping the board apprised of current information. Licenses may be renewed online up to sixty days prior to expiration at Tennessee.gov/health. Click on the "License Renewal" link and follow the prompts. It is a violation of the law and of the board’s rules to practice on an expired license.

The board is further authorized to issue an advanced practice nurse (APN) certificate with or without a certificate to prescribe to registered nurses in four roles: nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. Qualifications include current registered nurse licensure, a master’s degree in a nursing specialty area, three quarter hours of pharmacology, national certification and evidence of specialized practitioner skills. An advanced practice nurse certificate without prescriptive authority is issued when the nurse does not meet the pharmacology qualification and for applicants meeting certain “grandfathering” provisions.

The board prescribes the minimum curriculum for all nursing programs on ground, online, distance or via other electronic means and annually approves schools of nursing meeting board standards. New schools undergo an approval process including a survey of the program. Schools not meeting standards are investigated and the board is authorized to place the school on conditional approval or close the program if standards are not met.

The board interprets the statutes and administrative rules to determine the appropriate standards of practice in an effort to ensure the highest professional conduct. The board issues private advisory opinions to licensees on request. The board causes the investigation of nurses alleged to have violated the law and rules and is responsible to discipline the license of and/or imposes civil penalties on those found guilty.

The Tennessee Nurses Foundation, under contract with the department, provides professional assistance to nurses with physical, mental, emotional and/or chemical dependency issues. The monitoring and referral program, supported by licensure and renewal fees, provides a valuable service to protect the public and assist in the rehabilitation of nurses.

To assist in the discharge of its duties, the board employs a registered nurse executive director. The professional and administrative staff of the board and Division of Health Related Boards supports the board by issuing licenses to those who meet the requirements of the law and rules.

The board consists of eleven members appointed by the Governor for four year terms or until their successors are appointed. Legislation passed in 2012 will transition the composition of the board to the following: nine registered nurse or advanced practice nurses, one licensed practical nurse, and one consumer member who is not a nurse and is not commercially or professionally associated with the health care industry. Members may be selected from lists of nominees submitted by their respective organizations for each appointment

The board meets quarterly for regular meetings and as needed for special or called meetings. A quorum of six members is required to conduct business. Meetings are open to the public.

Contact the Board of Nursing

615-532-5166 local or 1-800-778-4123 nationwide
or write
Tennessee Board of Nursing
665 Mainstream Drive, 2nd Floor
Nashville, TN 37243