How To Keep Your Nursing License Active When Not Working

How To Keep Your Nursing License Active When Not Working

As a nurse, your livelihood depends on possessing a valid nursing license, but during your career, there may come a time when you’re unable to or choose not to work temporarily because of parental leave, medical leave, or even an extended vacation. Even during these times, it’s important to keep your license active when not working. In this article, we’ll explain why and how to keep your nursing license active when you’re not working.

How Long Does Your Nursing License Last?

Nursing licenses are an essential part of the nursing profession, allowing you to practice and provide quality care to your patients. However, like all professional licenses, nursing licenses have an expiration date and must be renewed in order to maintain your eligibility to practice. Below, we discuss the different types of nursing licenses, their expiration dates, and how to keep your nursing license active.

how to keep your nursing license active when not working

How Long Does Your CNA Certification Last? 

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) license lasts for two years in most states. During this time, you must complete a certain number of continuing education hours in order to renew your certification. The exact number of hours required varies by state but is usually around 12 to 24 hours. 

Once the continuing education requirement is met, you need to submit an application and pay a renewal fee to your state’s nursing board. After the renewal is processed, you’ll receive a new certification with a new expiration date.

How Long Does Your LPN License Last?

The licensed practical nurse (LPN) license allows you to practice nursing under the supervision of an RN or physician. All LPNs must be licensed by their state’s nursing board to legally practice.

LPN licenses typically last for two years and must be renewed by meeting the continuing education and practice hours requirements set by your state’s nursing board, as well as paying a renewal fee. It’s important to note that some states may have different expiration dates for LPN licenses and LPN certification, as well as their own LPN license renewal requirements.

How Long Does Your RN License Last?

Registered nurses must possess a license from the state they work in to practice legally. These licenses usually last for two years and to renew them, you’ll need to practice for a certain number of hours as determined by your state’s nursing board and meet your state’s continuing education requirements. 

It’s worth noting that some states may have different validity periods for RN licenses and RN certifications, so it’s important to take note of your license’s date of expiry.

How Long Does Your NP License Last?

Nurse practitioner (NP) licenses last for two years in most states, and as with the RN license, require a certain number of practice hours and continuing education to remain active. Exact requirements vary by state, so it’s advisable to check with your local nursing board.

Similar to the RN license, an NP certification often carries different rules and validity periods. Ensure you’re aware of the different dates for each.

How Long Does Your Travel Nurse License Last?

Travel nursing licenses are a specialized type of nursing license that allows you to work in different states on a temporary basis. These licenses are typically valid for the duration of your assignment, which can range from a few weeks to several months. 

Some states have a specific process for obtaining a travel nurse license, which may involve submitting a temporary or compact license application and paying a fee. Other states recognize licenses from other states through the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

What Does an Inactive Status Mean in Nursing?

An inactive status in nursing means that you’ve chosen not to renew your license or have let your license expire. If your license is inactive, you won’t be permitted to practice nursing until you’ve reactivated it.

To do this, you’ll need to complete the necessary requirements put forth by your licensing board, which likely include taking some continuing education courses — a task that may delay your return to work significantly. This can be avoided by keeping your nursing license active when not working and paying close attention to the requirements for your particular area of practice and state.

The Importance of Renewing Your Nursing License

Failing to renew your license can result in losing the ability to practice, and may also make it difficult to find employment in your chosen field until you’ve met your state’s renewal requirements.

To keep your license active while you’re not working:

  • Stay aware of your expiration date and plan ahead to renew the license on time.
  • Meet your continuing education requirements through online, in-person, or hybrid courses. 
  • Maintain a portfolio detailing your continuing education, professional development, and practice hours that you can refer to when you’re ready to work again.

How Do I Find a Nursing Job When I’m Ready to Work?

Now that you’ve got a handle on how to keep your nursing license active when not working, it’s important to know what steps to take when you’re ready to return to the job. By keeping an active license and a solid portfolio of continuing education and professional development, you’ll be able to dive back in without hustling to meet practice and continuing education requirements. 

Make the transition back to work a smooth one by finding the right position with Wanderly. Browse permanent positions as well as temporary local and travel opportunities at top healthcare organizations across the United States, view agency reviews, and find your perfect job.