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1. How the Profession Is Organized in Illinois 2. Eligibility for Licensing 3. Tests 4. Time and Costs 5. Other Careers and Credentials 6. Beyond Licensing 7. Important Links 8. Tips 1. HOW THE PROFESSION IS ORGANIZED IN ILLINOIS REGULATION OF THE NURSING PROFESSION Nursing in Illinois is regulated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and its Division of Professional Regulation. IDFPR manages 3 types of nursing licenses related toincreasing degrees of education, examination and experience: 1. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN); 2. Registered Professional Nurse (RN); and 3. Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) The guide assumes that you hold the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor of Science in Nursing, so the most appropriate license type for you is a Registered Nurse (RN). It also assumes that your Illinois license will be your first U.S. nursing license. You will become an RN through Licensure by Examination. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is required for licensing as an RN in Illinois. REGISTERED NURSES (RNS) AND EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND In the U.S., the term RN includes professionals with a variety of education levels but with certain skill setsin common. Most people become RNs after participating in one of two types of educational programs:

and advancement opportunities in the workplace. Because of this demand. a higher level of education corresponds to greater responsibility. and tuition fees for continued education. childcare. The highest average earnings are paid to nurses working in private industry ($66. ELIGIBILITY FOR LICENSING OVERVIEW Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) need to meet several requirements to receive Licensure by Examination as a RN in Illinois. and the increasing complexity of nursing practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2010 to 2020.690)..S. research. THE JOB MARKET FOR NURSING IN ILLINOIS Nursing is a growing field in the U. hospitals ($62. even part-time employment can include attractive benefits such as health insurance. specialization. typically in a community college) • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN (a 4-year university degree) Usually. Steps to licensing are as follows: . nurse attrition (choosing to leave the job). (BACK TO TOP) 2. or education roles.000 nurses in Illinois.S.690). Bilingual and bicultural nurses can be even more attractive to employers who serve diverse communities. The state of Illinois Nursing Center reports that by 2020 there will be a nursing shortage of over 21. Many RNs later go on to receive masters or doctoral degrees in nursing and pursue careers as APNs or in healthcare management. consulting.An Associates Degree of Nursing or ADN (2 years of study. due to factors such as the aging U. physicians offices ($62.650). and home health care ($60. and housing care facilities ($58. the fastest growing jobs for RNs will be employment in physician's offices. and outpatient care facilities.180).880). population. THE JOB SEARCH • Qualified RNs are in high demand and employers will compete for their skills. home health care.

EVALUATE YOUR FOREIGN DEGREE AND FOREIGN LICENSE WITH AN APPROVED CREDENTIALING ORGANIZATION AND RECEIVE A CREDENTIAL EVALUATION SERVICE REPORT The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation allows you to have your foreign nursing degree evaluated by one of two organizations: the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) or the Education Records Evaluation Service. You will need to research how to do this and what you will be charged by these institutions • Your report is active for 12 months. You must submit this directly with your application. and fast turnaround cannot handle them yourself • Provide translations for any documents not in English. This includes standards for coursework and clinical experience infive areas of nursing practice: • Adult medical nursing • Adult surgical nursing . This is most often done through your foreign school(s) or licensing agency. The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) instructs you on the steps necessary to evaluate your foreign degree and licensure. (ERES). Make sure that you ask for your report to be prepared for the Illinois Board of Nursing . These records must be delivered from the institutions directly to CGFNS . Inc. renewing access to it for another 12 months costs $200 for the Healthcare Profession & Science Report and $250 for the Full Education Course-by-Course Report • You must show proof that you graduated from high school (a photocopy of a high school diploma or exit exam will work).this will make your record available to the State electronically • Use CGFNS forms to send requests for official academic records and licensing confirmation to the educational institution(s) you attended and your country's nursing regulation agency. accompanied by a translation and special translator statement CGFNS will evaluate your education and licensing to see if it is comparable to the minimum standards for an Illinois Registered Nurse program. web access by regulation officials. We recommend CGFNS for its long-established service. Here are the steps: • Apply for evaluation by either registering online or downloading an application form and sending it by mail • Request the "Healthcare Profession & Science Report" (cost: $335 in 2012).

and bring your transcripts and credential evaluation to the program coordinators to see if you can receive advanced standing for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). If you hold a BSN from another country. you will need to return to school for a degree program to qualify you for licensure as a Registered Nurse. your degree might be determined comparable to the minimum standard required by the State of Illinois. sometimes different standards in nursing practice can affect your degree evaluation. The quickest route to becoming an RN may be to earn an Associates Degree of Nursing. However. After completing this clinical requirement and sending transcripts to IDFPR. 3. degree that is not as advanced as your foreign degree. Costs vary by site. and you will have to continue studying for a BSN if you want better career opportunities. It is critical that you save the receipt as proof that you have taken this step: You must include it in the Licensing by Examination application package you will later send to Continental Testing Services (CTS). You should research nursing education programs in your area. SUBMIT YOUR LICENSURE BY EXAMINATION APPLICATION. 2. GET FINGERPRINTED VIA AN IDFPR (ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL REGULATION). AN APPROVED VENDOR FOR A CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK A list of service providers approved by IDFPR and the Illinois State Police is listed in the Licensure by Examination application. you will need to have your training pre-approved by IDFPR and choose a school or other training provider from a list of approved nursing education programs (the list is available on the IDFPR website). However. AND PAY APPLICATION FEE • . CGFNS will decide either that: • Your degree is comparable except for a missing clinical component in one of the five areas of nursing OR that • Your degree is not found as comparable In the first case.S. REQUIRED SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS. you will be able to continue your licensing process In the second case.Obstetrics (maternal and infant health) • Pediatrics (care of children) • Psychiatric or mental health nursing After evaluation. or nurse midwives not receiving training in other areas of nursing. if you choose this option you will be settling for a U. Call to set up an appointment. such as male nurses not practicing obstetrical nursing. REGISTER ONLINE WITH CONTINENTAL TESTING SERVICES (CTS).

CTS manages licensing applications for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Set up your appointment immediately. 220 on the computer-based test and 83 on the Internet-based test) This application is valid for 3 years. .Instructions are included in the ATT notice. register online and arrange for payment of an $91 application fee (as of 2012) • Mail all required documentation to CTS. If you have not passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) or met other licensing requirements within these 3 years you will have to submit a new application and pay the processing fee again. are currently licensed. 5. Illinois requires notarized translations of any foreign-language documents Your final application package should include: • Four-page Licensure by Examination application from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) • CT-NUR forms completed by the licensing agency or board of any jurisdiction(s) in which you were first licensed. REGISTER WITH PEARSON VUE FOR THE NATIONAL COUNCIL LICENSURE EXAMINATION (NCLEX) BY WEB. The NCLEX costs $200 (as of 2012). RECEIVE AN APPROVAL LETTER FROM CONTINENTAL TESTING SERVICES (CTS) AND AUTHORIZATION TO TEST (ATT). You should call the CTS help number for application assistance: (708) 354-9911. SCHEDULE YOUR TESTING APPOINTMENT WITH THE NATIONAL COUNCIL LICENSURE EXAMINATION (NCLEX) You have only 90 days from receipt of the ATT to take the NCLEX. 4. MAIL OR TELEPHONE Register with Pearson for the NCLEX at the same time as submitting your application to Continental Testing Services (CTS). or have been licensed in the last 5 years • Credential Evaluation Service report (your foreign degree and licensing evaluation) • Receipt from fingerprinting appointment • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if you are not a native English speaker and the language of instruction and textbooks in your nursing program was not English (The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) requires minimal scores of 560 on the paper-based test. There are two steps involved: • First.

TESTS The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the only examination required in the Illinois Licensure by Examination process. you may be asked to answer anywhere from 75 to 265 items. You will be given a short tutorial that will expose you to the different question types. As a result. Test takers with either very high or very low abilities tend to have the tests with the fewest items. The current NCLEX-RNexam (2011 edition) is divided into four categories of Client Needs. This means that the test will adjust its difficulty level. called a variable length adaptive test. The test will continue until all content areas are covered in the required proportions. The exam is mostly multiple-choice but other question types are also included. and the system is 95% certainthat your abilities are either above or below the passing standard due to its analysis of your answers. content. provided that you work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or an advanced practicing nurse. some of which have subcategories. You are not allowed to skip any questions. TAKE AND PASS THE NATIONAL COUNCIL LICENSURE EXAMINATION (NCLEX) AND RECEIVE A PASSAGE LETTER ALLOWING LIMITED PRACTICE FOR 3 MONTHS WHILE LICENSE IS BEING PROCESSED Your NCLEX scores should be available to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) within one month after testing. (BACK TO TOP) 3. as this can quickly lower your score. An on-screen calculator is provided for some problems. The percentages show the approximate percent of questions each test taker will receive in the category: . You cannot bring reference materials or other testing aids to the exam. but you should avoid making random guesses. Once you have received a passing grade on the NCLEX you will receive a letter of passage from IDFPR and your licensure will be issued as soon as it can be processed. and number of questions based on your answers. usually within a few months. TEST TECHNOLOGY OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL LICENSURE EXAMINATION FOR REGISTERED NURSES (NCLEX-RN) The NCLEX-RN is computer-based test. CONTENT AREAS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL LICENSURE EXAMINATION FOR REGISTERED NURSES (NCLEX-RN) The content of the NCLEX-RN concentrates on the patient as the focus of care. Your passage letter will give you details that allow you to practice nursing for up to 3 months pending receipt of Illinois licensure.6.

you must bring the ATT and acceptable identification.1. You can use the report to learn what areas to study before you retake the exam. You will be fingerprinted and photographed before your test and will be fingerprinted when you re-enter the testing area after breaks. PRACTICING FOR THE NCLEX-RN There are many different resources that can help you prepare for the content and the computer-based testing technology. You may take the NCLEX-RN again after waiting 90 days. FAILING THE NCLEX-RN If you fail your exam. Consider investing in test preparation as it may save you money by . including time scheduled for the computer tutorial and optional breaks. You will have up to six hours to complete the test. You can registerinformation with Pearson and pay for the test ($200). On the day of the test. Psychosocial Integrity 7-13% 4. so you should not delayin scheduling an exam session. The Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium offers a variety of test preparation resources for low cost. you will not be allowed to take the test if you arrive more than a half hour late for your appointment. Safe and Effective Care Environment • Coordinated Care (13-19%) • Safety and Infection Control (11-17%) 2.S. Health Promotion and Maintenance 7-13% 3. You should arrive at least a half hour early. the Illinois Nursing Board will send you a Candidate Performance Report which shows the areas that need improvement. but you cannot schedule the NCLEX-RN exam until your application for Licensure by Examination has been processed and you have received an Authorization to Test (ATT) notice. If your score is far from passing you should consider additional test preparation or taking refresher courses so that you can passin the three-year period after your first application. Physiological Integrity • Basic Care and Comfort (9-15%) • Pharmacological Therapies (11-17%) • Reduction of Risk Potential (9-15%) • Physiological Adaptation (9-15%) SCHEDULING AND TESTING SITE PROCEDURES OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL LICENSURE EXAMINATION FOR REGISTERED NURSES (NCLEX-RN) Pearson Vue holds the NCLEX-RN in testing centers across the U. The ATT includes detailed instructions for choosing a testing center and scheduling a date to take the NCLEX-RN. The ATT is valid for only 90 days. and internationally.

100 • 2 Fingerprints You identify a finger printing provider and make an appointment • 1 month + $50 • You identify a finger printing provider and make an appointment • 1 month + $50 • 3 Submit Licensure by Examination Application to CTS 4 Register with You assemble your Licensing by Examination packet relatively quickly • 6 months + $100 • Your licensing application is incomplete the first time and you must resubmit it • 9 months + $100 • You register for the NCLEX at the same as you • You register for the NCLEX at the same as you apply to CTS • . (BACK TO TOP) 4. the better) • The efficiency of your home country's system in compiling and transmitting your university records and verification of licensing • Your performance on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) • Your free time and how much money you have to spend We provide two hypothetical scenarios below to show some of the variety in results that immigrant professionals may find when they seek to become registered nurses in Illinois. Your experience will vary. A few of these include: • The completeness of your educational and professional records (the more documentation. TIME AND COSTS Evaluating your foreign degree and achieving licensing as a Registered Professional Nurse in Illinoisdepends on many factors. TWO HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIOS FOR LICENSING AS A REGISTERED NURSE: Step 1 Degree Evaluation More Efficient Scenario Approximate Time and Cost It takes you just 3 months to get your home country documents to a credentialing organization to complete your degree evaluation • No translation is needed • 3 months + $500 • Less Efficient Scenario Approximate Time and Cost Problems with your documents take 6 months to resolve and are expensive since you must pay others in your country to visit institutions for you • Your documents must be translated • 8 months + $1.not having to pay to retake the test and by entering the job market faster. Please refer to Important Links for test preparation options. Please consider these scenarios as two examples out of many possibilities.

such as • employers paying for tuition and fees associated with the NCLEX and licensing • more energy to focus on studying • a chance to adapt to the U.000. Your license is received 3 months after you take the exam • 5 months • It takes you 2 tries to pass the NCLEX.650 (BACK TO TOP) 5. Working in healthcarein a different way and with fewer responsibilities may offer you some advantages. CERTIFIED NURSING ASSISTANT.200 • More Efficient Total About 1 1/2 years and $1. you enroll in a 4-month NCLEX preparation class for $1.In between tests. healthcare system and workplace culture in a lower-pressure environment You should be honest with your employer about your long-term plans and be sure that they have benefits such as tuition reimbursement or schedule flexibility that will support your goals. you pass the NCLEX on the first try. OTHER CAREERS AND CREDENTIALS LOWER-LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES You may want to consider if taking a lower-level job in healthcare in the short-term can help you meet longer-term goals of licensing as a registered nurse. Your license is received 3 months after you take the second exam • 8 months + $1.Step Pearson Vue for NCLEX More Efficient Scenario Approximate Time and Cost apply to CTS • You begin a self-study course for the NCLEX for $300 • $500 You schedule the NCLEX right after receiving the Authorization to Test • Less Efficient Scenario Approximate Time and Cost • $200 5 Receive Authorization to Test and Schedule NCLEX 6 Take and Pass NCLEX You schedule the NCLEX right after receiving the Authorization to Test • Your skills are fresh and you've been using a self-study program throughout the process.200 Less Efficient Total About 2 years and $2. CNA .S. Preparing for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) can take time.

CNAs have very limited responsibilities and work under nurse supervision.instead of working for a company that provides interpretation services to hospitals. you may want to research opportunities for work inhospitals as an interpreter.CNAs are also commonly referred to as nurses' aides or orderlies.S. including the number of hours of training you received for each course • Social Security card • Proof of employment authorization After you have the necessary materials to register for the CNA exam. They are offered through many community colleges or larger healthcare facilities in Illinois. a study guide. and test locations. This type of role is not regulated in Illinois. and possibly receive tuition reimbursement for relicensing purposes. You are more likely to have benefits such as tuition reimbursement if you find work as a direct employee of a healthcare facility. so standards for employment as well as pay and benefits may be very different depending on the employer. Working as a CNA in the healthcare field will provide you with an opportunity to build a professional network. you must take a CNA training course inorder to be able to register for the exam again. CNAs typically earn approximately $12 per hour. This exam is basic. also offers practice materials. As a foreign trained nurse. Additionally. If you fail the email 3 times. CNA training programs are short courses that last only 1 or 2 months. you can become a CNA fairly easily once you have completed your degree evaluation through either ERES or CGFNS. HEALTHCARE INTERPRETER If you are bilingual and a strong communicator. You may want to begin your research by directly contacting human resource departments at hospitals. gain U. you must pass a test and a criminal background check before working as a CNA.nurseaidetesting. www. you can find an exam site through Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIU-C).com. Their website.S. CNA course if you can provide the following materials to register for the written competency exam: • A copy of your diploma translated into English • Copy of official transcripts in English. but CNA test preparation materials are available to practice. HIGHER-LEVEL OPPORTUNITIES After you receive your Registered Nurse license in Illinois you may find you want to continue your professional development. experience that is highly relevant to your profession. If you have the equivalent .You do not need to take a U.

including accelerated degree programs or courses designed for working professionals (e.of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They often provide Continuing Education to members as well. It grants licensing to nurses by either examination (the process described in this topic) or endorsement (where a . but direct physician supervision is not required in order to practice. • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). including test preparation. STATE: Illinois Nurses Association NATIONAL: • • American Nurses Association Additionally. which includes diagnosis and treatment of patients and the ability to prescribe medications. gender. Their websites may offer useful information to nursing candidates about the licensing and examination process. ethnicity. They also help set acceptable working conditions for nurses. LICENSING MOBILITY (RECIPROCITY) The state of Illinois does not have any shared agreement to honor the nursing licenses of other states. examination.S. you can qualify to train as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). (BACK TO TOP) 6. APNs can choose from specialties in one of 4 recognized practice areas: • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). or religion of registered nurses. • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). and licensing processes beyond the level required of Registered Nurses. APNs must have a joint agreement with anIllinois licensed physician on record.g. ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSE (APN) The advanced practice nurse is the highest licensure in nursing practice and involves graduate school education. or • Nurse Practitioner (CNP). A RN who wants to become an APN will find a variety of opportunities for education. and give information and opinions on policy in Illinois and across the U. weekend and evening courses). BEYOND LICENSING JOINING A PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION State and national associations for nurses provide opportunities for professional development and networking. APNs inmost states are allowed a more independent nursing practice. job type. In Illinois. there is a large variety of professional associations for nurses that cater to specific disciplines.

and Pearson Vue.this will familiarize you with the appearance and operation of the interface including the variety of possible question formats (multiple choice. • The state of Illinois has established the Illinois Center for Nursing to promote nursing in the state. a registered nurse looking to relocate to Illinois will not have to retake the NCLEX.registered nurse licensed in another state must meet all Illinois requirements for licensing). Box 100. It has useful links to education and employment information. the candidate. (BACK TO TOP) 7. fill in the blank) • Continental Testing Service registers candidates and collects licensing applications for the IllinoisDepartment of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).. The online registration can be accessed through clicking on "Apply for Exam" • . the country is now moving toward increased mobility of nursing licenses. as the nursing shortage encourages states to attract more qualified professionals. serving as intermediary between the state. Registered Professional Nurses (RN) and Advanced Practice Nurses (APN).Illinois 60525. IMPORTANT LINKS Common Words used in this article REGULATION: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issues licenses for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN). See the National Resources part of the Important Links section to view the states that are currently participating in mutual licensing reciprocity for licensed practice nurses and registered nurses. Application packets (both by Examination and Licensing by Endorsement) can be downloaded on the homepage. Phone: (708) 354-9911 Address: Continental Testing Services Inc.O. Questions about the application process should be directed to them. you can learn more about this Nurse Licensure Compact through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. However. LaGrange. P. since the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is accepted by all states. Fortunately. as well as professional associations TESTING: • Pearson Vue administers the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and gathers importantinformation and further links regarding the NCLEX • Download the latest NCLEX Examination Candidate Bulletin as well as a small software program that offers an online tutorial for the NCLEX computer-based exam interface . ordering.

as well as coaching in the relicensing process specific to nurses • The Illinois Health Care Worker Registry shows the required steps of licensing as a CNA in Illinois NATIONAL RESOURCES: • The National Council on State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) represents member Nursing Boards for all 50 states. coincidentally. Some resource tools include their useful CES Application Instructions Handbook and fee schedule • The Education Records Evaluation Service. and education systems to secure licensure as registered professional nurses in Illinois. They offer TOEFL classes for nurses. and CPR courses. The NCSBN's Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination v5. Phone: (916) 921-0790 ILLINOIS RESOURCES: • The Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium is a non-profit organization working with foreign trained nurses to assist in navigating the health care. Phone: (215) 349-8767 ext.CREDENTIALS: The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) in Philadelphia. CA is the other credentialing organization accepted by the State of Illinois for RN licensure. immigration. 476. Illinois. including skills assessment to identify knowledge gaps. headquartered in Chicago. NCLEX preparation courses. plus curriculum. It is also. test questions and interactive exercises • The Illinois Nurses Association is the largest nursing association in the state • The American Nurses Association is its national counterpart (BACK TO TOP) 8. in Sacramento. TIPS PROVIDE COMPLETE DOCUMENTS • . PA is one of two credentialing organizations accepted by the State of Illinois for RN licensure. Inc. Its website also has an up-to-date map of states which have formed a Nurse Licensure Compact • National Council on State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Learning Extension is a portal for e-learning for nursing that includes test preparation for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) for nursing candidates and continuing education for practicing nurses at all levels.4 is an online subscription service that includes extensive NCLEX preparation resources. It develops the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

or Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Providing additional documentation about your program of study. GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED Be your own advocate throughout the licensing process. and ask for assistance. If you feel your degree has been misinterpreted or you do not understand a fine point of the state regulations. There are online and in-person formats available. organize your questions. such as a CNA. Investing money wisely now to make your licensing process a success will get you into a job that pays well that much faster! You should feel prepared to take the NCLEX by the time your licensing by examination application is ready to submit to Continental Testing Services (CTS). contact Continental Testing Services (CTS). explain how your plans can bring long-term value to the employer (BACK TO TOP) FACEBOOKTWITTERLINKEDIN UPWARDLY GLOBAL © 2011 . can make the most of your degree evaluation. consider employment in healthcare at a lower level. invest some money in test preparation. equivalent. Invest the time and money early to facilitate this process. If you are overqualified for positions you are applying for. Pearson Vue. to give you a lower-stress job that allows you to study for licensing and open opportunities to meet employers. INVEST IN TEST PREPARATION If you can afford it. Seek clarification about questions and concerns directly from official sources. such as syllabi or course descriptions. Making an effort here can result in significant savings of time and money by minimizing the gaps in comparing your degree to its U. because the events that follow are sensitive to deadlines and you will lose money if you delay BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR JOB SEARCH Build professional networks.Nursing foreign degree evaluation services require that your university and licensing authority send transcripts directly to them.S. including a moderately priced subscription service by the makers of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).