Become a Registered Nurse in Pennsylvania - PA

How to Become an RN in Pennsylvania

  • Earn a degree.  There are three options for earning a degree on the path to becoming a registered nurse:
    • Pennsylvania RN Programs for Bachelor of Science Degree – 4 Years
    • Pennsylvania RN Programs for Associate of Science Degree – 2-3 Years
    • Pennsylvania RN Programs for Diploma – 2-3 Years

  • Pursue a career in nursing.  The degree program you completed will determine your next step.  Most often you will apply to a Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing approved nursing school.  During nursing school you will receive classroom instruction and attend mandatory supervised clinical observations in hospitals and other health care facilities. Course work includes instruction in anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, nutrition physiology, psychology and other behavioral sciences. Liberal arts classes are also included in bachelor and associate programs. 
  • Apply to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing for your registered nursing license.  After you apply you will be notified when you are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).  In order to practice as a registered nurse the state of Pennsylvania, you must have a current, valid license or permit issued by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.
  • Pass the NCLEX.  You must register with Pearson Vue online at www.vue.com/nclex or call (866)496-2539.  The exam is comprehensive and multiple choice.  It will test all the areas your coursework included in your educational training as well as present you with actual real life scenarios.  You must pass the NCLEX before you can become a registered nurse in Pennsylvania.  There is no limit to the number of times you can take the NCLEX in Pennsylvania, but you will not be allowed to test any sooner than 91 days since the last exam you took.
  • Search for an entry-level registered nursing job. Nursing associations, organizations and educational institutions may partner or network with hospitals to recruit new entry-level nurses.
  • Consider pursuing a nursing specialty.  Specializations allow you to focus on your strengths and interests in healthcare.  There are specific work settings, such as an Intensive Care Unit, where you will be able to really utilize your strengths.  If you choose a specialty in undergraduate school you may receive up to a semester of instruction focused on your specialty.  Beyond a degree program, some healthcare facilities offer on the job training and possibly tuition reimbursement should you decide to pursue a specialization after entering the workforce.  There are four advanced specializations in nursing: clinical nursing specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and nurse practitioners.  All advanced specializations require a master’s degree. 

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing establishes the rules and regulations which govern all nurses in the state.  These range from licensure requirements to the enforcement of state nursing laws.  The board also establishes education requirements for nurses and approves nursing education programs. 

Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing
PO Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649
(717) 783-7142 - Phone
(717) 783-0822 - Fax

Pennsylvania State Nurses Association

The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is a member of the American Nurses Association.  The goal of the association is to be a strong and effective voice for the registered nurses of the state of Pennsylvania.  They provide access to education and continuing education skills and offer valuable resources for nurses.

Pennsylvania State Nurses Association
2578 Interstate Drive, Suite 101
Harrisburg, PA  17110
(888) 707 – 7762 – Phone
(717) 657 3796 – Fax

Registered Nurse Schools