Become a Registered Nurse in New York - NY

The importance of a registered nurse can't be expressed enough.

Registered nurses administer medicines and treatment, record medical histories and symptoms, operate and monitor medical equipment, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results and much more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow in the United States by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the BLS, and 13.4 percent during that same time period in New York, according to Projections Central.

If this sounds like your calling and you're a current or future New Yorker, then read on. Here's how to become a registered nurse in New York.

Education requirements

The three educational paths to becoming a registered nurse in the United States, according to the BLS, are by earning one of the following degrees:

  • A bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN), which typically takes four years to complete; the program usually includes additional education in the physical and social sciences, critical thinking, communication and leadership, and offers more clinical experience in non-hospital settings than the other two kinds of nursing programs listed below.
  • An associate degree in nursing (ADN), which typically takes two-three years to complete.
  • A diploma from an approved nursing program, which typically takes two-three years to complete

In all nursing programs, you'll likely take courses in microbiology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, chemistry, psychology, liberal arts and other social and behavioral sciences. Each of the three educational paths includes supervised clinical experience.

If you're a registered nurse with an ADN or diploma and you're looking to go back to school, you can earn a bachelor's degree through an RN-to-BSN program, an expedited option. There are also combined bachelor's and master's nursing programs if you're entering the nursing profession with a bachelor's degree in another field.

Approved nursing programs in New York can be found on the New York State Education Department (NYSED) website.

Licensure requirements

There's more to do after earning your degree or diploma to become a registered nurse in New York. You must also earn a license.

Obtaining licensure to become a registered nurse in New York requires passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NYSED website states, "If you are a graduate of a New York State nursing program, or an approved nursing program in the U.S., you may apply for the examination at any time" after filling out the licensure application and having your education verified.

You also must fill out an application and pass the following New York-specific requirements, according to the NYSED:

  • Be of good moral character, as determined by the department
  • Be at least eighteen years old
  • Meet education requirements (as listed in the education requirements section of this article, which entails completing at least a two-year degree program or diploma in nursing)
  • Complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse, which is to be offered by a New York State-approved provider

Once you fulfill the requirements, the fee for the actual license is $143.

After becoming a registered nurse, you're required to "complete approved coursework or training appropriate to the professional's practice in infection control and barrier precautions, including engineering and work practice controls, to prevent the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the hepatitis b virus (HBV) in the course of professional practice," according to the NYSED.

Licensure requirements for out-of-staters and international applicants

If you're a licensed nurse from another state, you have to provide the NYSED with verification of your licensure. This will either require requesting verification of your licensure from Nursys, if your state is involved in Nursys, or filling out a form if your state is not involved in Nursys. What is Nursys? According to its website, Nursys "provides online verification to a nurse requesting to practice in another state and nurse license lookup reports to employers and the general public."

If you're an applicant who has completed your RN education outside of the United States, you have to have your education credentials verified by by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). That requires filling out an application and awaiting evaluation from the NYSED. Non-U.S. nursing program graduates may also only apply for the NCLEX-RN "after receiving a letter from the New York State Education Department notifying you that your education has been approved."

You won't become a nurse overnight, but powering through an associate, bachelor's or diploma program in nursing and obtaining licensure may be an excellent decision if you want to be part of a satisfying career in healthcare.

Professional Associations

New York State Nurses Association (www.nysna.org)

  • This association supports nurses who are members of union in labor issues, communicates with members about the legal and governmental environment of nursing in New York, provides career resources, supports research and education, and lobbies with the state government for laws that favor the nursing profession.

American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org)

  • This organization represents registered nurses through its colleagues at the state level. It sets high standards for practice, supports the rights of nurses, making sure the public has a positive view of nursing, and lobbying in the national government and regulatory agencies.

Nursing Students’ Association of New York State (www.nsanys.org)

  • This association prepares nursing students for active involvement in the profession and holds an annual career event.


  1. Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm, accessed March 25, 2016
  2. New York State Nursing Programs, New York State Education Department, http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/nurseprogs.htm, accessed March 25, 2016
  3. License Requirements: RN & LPN, New York State Education Department, http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/nursing.htm, accessed March 25, 2016
  4. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm, accessed March 25, 2016
  5. NCLEX & Other Exams, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm, accessed March 25, 2016
  6. Nursys, https://www.nursys.com/, accessed March 25, 2016

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