What is a State Board of Nursing?


You’ve certainly heard about them during your schooling, and they’re often talked about when you’re applying for specific licensure, but what is a state board of nursing? Is it the ever-present “big brother” that hovers over the nursing industry? Are they a group of evil board members locked away in a conference room somewhere, plotting how they can take advantage of you hardworking nurses? However, they do hold a lot of power when it comes to the nursing industry, so it’s important to know exactly what their role is and how they affect you. Well, not exactly. You do, after all, send them a license renewal check every few years, so let’s take a look at who exactly you’re sending money to.

What is a State Board of Nursing?

Who are they?

So, what is a state board of nursing? Well, before we can answer that question, it’s important to know who these people are. The members of the state board of nursing are put in place by the government in order to regulate the industry. Nursing regulation is the governmental oversight provided for nursing practice in each state. Nursing is regulated because it is one of the health professions that pose a risk of harm to the public if practiced by someone who is untrained or incompetent. This is also why licenses are implemented as well. This board needs to be able to keep track of nurses to ensure the safety of the public.

While there is a national council for nursing boards, you’ll be working with boards of nursing on the state level most of the time. A state board of nursing is usually made up of former nurses and other healthcare experts in the industry. They will have a background in policymaking as well.

What Do They Do?

What is a state board of nursing? Well, their main function is to pass regulations that licensed nurses in that state must abide by. They set the standards for safe nursing care, decide the scope of practice for nurses within its jurisdiction, and issue licenses to qualified candidates. Each state has passed, and will often modify a Nurse Practice Act. This is basically the rulebook for nurses. They will also create regulations for licensure as well, which we’ll touch on in a moment. When it comes down to it, a state board of nursing does hold a ton of power, which is why it’s important to know their role in the industry.

what is a state board of nursing

The biggest function that these boards have is handing out (and in some cases, taking away) licenses. All boards of nursing are responsible for evaluating applications for nurse licensure, issuing and renewing nursing licenses, and taking disciplinary actions when needed. They will also authorize the use of license exams and approve education programs for nurses. They will provide input when it comes to national legislation that will affect nurses, and even monitor nurse aids and other professionals working in a home health setting.

What Can They Do to You?

Now, we’ve answered the question of, “what is a state board of nursing?” Now, It’s time to answer the second most important question when it comes to these nursing boards. What can they do to you in terms of punishment?

I’ve mentioned multiple times that these boards are very authoritative, and that’s not an exaggeration. The board giveth and the board taketh away. Just as they have the authority to give out nursing licenses, they also have the ability to take away your license as well. From the beginning of schooling, you’re taught to cherish your nursing license as soon as you get it. This is because one mistake could get your license revoked. Anyone can report a nurse to the State Board of Nursing. They will then be investigated, and ultimately punished if the BON deem it necessary.

The one thing to remember is that boards of nursing are not in place to protect nurses, they are in place to protect the public. They’re designed to police nurses to ensure that they’re not putting patients in danger. While I know this might sound stressful, it’s really not. You work in an environment where accountability is crucial. As long as you follow the guidelines and communicate effectively, you should have no issue.

Do you have any other questions about state nursing boards? Feel free to comment below or submit an FAQ! Also, if you’re looking for a stellar travel nursing job, check out the thousands of jobs we have available!

Author: Troy Diffenderfer

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