Become a Registered Nurse in Tennessee - TN

How to Become an RN in Tennessee

Registered nurses in Tennessee work in a variety of practice settings. Tennessee’s landscape is diverse, and nurses can work in populated cities such as Knoxville or rural areas in Appalachia.  The Tennessee Foundation for Nursing estimates a 38% increase in demand for nurses from 1999-2020. There are several factors for the increased demand. One factor is a shift from hospital care to community care. Another factor is the growing elderly population. Finally, the retirement of aging RNs contributes to demand.  Additionally, in 2007, the Foundation counted 76,642 nurses with active RN licenses, but only 49,967 are active. Tennessee is a state that actively works to enhance the quantity and quality of nursing professionals to provide for the healthcare for its citizens.

Steps Becoming a Registered Nurse in Tennessee

 Becoming a nurse in Tennessee begins with graduating from one of the online or campus based Tennessee RN programs. Individuals interested in a degree leading to an RN can choose an Associates degree or Baccalaureate degree path.  After earning a degree graduates will be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. In addition to passing the NCLEX, registered nurses will have to apply for licensure from the Tennessee Board of Nursing.  After licensure has been obtain nurses are eligible to practice in the state. Nurses work in a variety of settings, hospitals, schools, community centers, medical offices, corporations, and more. In some cases, nurses are able to apply for licensure by endorsement, individuals interested in pursuing licensure by endorsement should contact the Tennessee Board of Nursing for specific rules.

Registered Nursing Step-by-Step

  • Apply to nursing education programs either 2 or 4-year programs.
  • Successfully complete nursing practice curriculum  usually about 65-70 credit hours (classes in anatomy & physiology, clinical nursing, mental health nursing, nutrition, etc.)
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam
  • Apply for licensure to the Tennessee Board of Nursing
  • Apply for nursing jobs in the field.
  • Registered Nurse Licensure in Tennessee

    The Board of Nursing is the state agency that administers nursing licenses and regulates the practice in Tennessee. To be eligible for a license, nurses must graduate from an accredited board approved nursing program, complete clinicals and pass the NCLEX exam with a pass rate greater than 85%.  Tennessee also recognizes nurses from other states that have a reciprocal agreement. This agreement is called the Nurse Licensure Compact. While a nurse may be licensed in one state, their license is valid for them to work in another state.  Nurses that do not hold a license from a compact state, but want to work in Tennessee, must pursue Board licensure.  Nurses that are a part of compact states can view information related licensure and registration information at www.nursys.com or at the Board of Nursing’s website at www.tennessee.gov/health.

    Tennessee Board of Nursing
    227 French Landing Suite 300
    Nashville, TN 37243

    RN Professional Associations in Tennessee

    The Tennessee Nurses Foundation provides legislative support to the nursing profession in the state.  The Foundation addresses nursing workforce changes in Tennessee and provides recommendations for reform in education and legislation to the State Nursing Board.  The Tennessee Nurses Foundation also advocates for the nursing industry in Tennessee. The Association provides benefits to members such as discounts on continuing education, conferences, member meetings and networking opportunities.

    The Tennessee Center for Nursing
    545 Mainstream Dr.
    Suite 406
    Phone: 615-242-8205
    Fax: 615-242-8207

    Tennessee Nurses Association
    545 Mainstream Drive
    Suite 405
    Nashville, TN 37338-1296
    Phone: 615-254-0350
    Toll-free: 800-467-1350
    E-mail: tna@tnaonline.org
    Website: www.tnaonline.org

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