Challenging The Boards To Become A Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
The purpose of this article is to further explore the detailed process that an unlicensed healthcare worker must complete to challenge the boards and become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in the state of California.
Contrary to popular beliefs, a person really can become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in the state of California without ever having graduated from an approved school.
An unlicensed person with the right mix of healthcare experience who wants to become an LVN in California has the option of qualifying to take the NCLEX-PN on the basis of previous education and experience. This method of becoming an LVN is more commonly known as 'challenging the boards' or the 'equivalency method.'
According to the BVNPT (2011), qualifying for the licensure examination based on prior education and experience, often referred to as "the equivalency method," requires the applicant to provide documentation of a minimum of 51 months of paid general duty inpatient bedside nursing experience in a clinical facility and completion of a 54-theory-hour pharmacology course.
Furthermore, the person who is interested in challenging the boards to become an LVN might be allowed to substitute previously-attained nursing education for some of the bedside experience requirements. The equivalency method permits unlicensed individuals who have had extensive inpatient bedside nursing care experience, plus a limited amount of formal education, to demonstrate that they have acquired sufficient basic nursing knowledge to be eligible for the licensure examination (BVNPT, 2011).
The applicant who wants to earn an LVN license in this manner must have the correct mix of experience.
The 51 months of paid bedside experience must have taken place within the last 10 years and needs to consist of at least 48 months of medical/surgical nursing, 6 weeks of maternity or genitourinary nursing, and 6 weeks of pediatric nursing.
In addition, half of the 51 month experiential requirement needs to have been within the last five years. The BVNPT will allow up to eight months of medical/surgical nursing experience to be accrued outside of an inpatient setting; however, the rest of the experience must be in an inpatient workplace setting such as a hospital.
According to the BVNPT (2011), the following types of work experience will not be accepted in this category; home health aide, in-home care provider, in-home hospice provider, board and care provider, residential care provider, unit secretary, ward clerk, transport aide, phlebotomist, monitor technician, field paramedic.
Applicants who have acquired additional formal nursing education from an approved vocational nursing, practical nursing or registered nursing program may submit official transcripts for evaluation for possible credit in lieu of paid bedside nursing experience (BVNPT, 2011). All applicants who want to challenge the boards must complete a 54-hour pharmacology course that covers principles of administration, dosage calculations, knowledge and action of commonly used drugs, and medication preparation. According to the BVNPT (2011), the pharmacology requirement may be satisfied by completion of 54 theory hours of pharmacology in a Board approved vocational nursing or psychiatric technician program or 54 theory hours of pharmacology offered as part of an approved registered nursing program.
The major downfalls associated with this method of becoming an LVN is that these nurses cannot be licensed in other states. In addition, some healthcare facilities in California will not hire LVNs who became licensed through this method due to policies that require new hires to graduate from an approved school of nursing.
Last edit by Joe V on Jun 14, '18
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Moderator
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to earning RN licensure.
Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,033; Likes: 69,300
CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
Specialty: 11 year(s) of experience in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psychJul 28, '12What kind of experiance would count? Being a CNA in a hospital is that the only experiance? Also could one do a lvn to rn program obtaining a license this way? This is very interesting, I really don't see how one can learn to be a nurse this way... But I guess if you can pass nclex.Jul 28, '12Quote from sali22Experience as a CNA, PCT, PCA, or former military medic would count.What kind of experiance would count? Being a CNA in a hospital is that the only experiance?
Quote from sali22I seriously doubt it, since most LVN-to-RN completion programs require that eligible applicants graduate from an approved LVN/LPN program. People who earn their licensure by challenging the boards technically have not graduated from an approved LVN program or school of nursing, so most (if not all) RN bridge programs would not enroll them.Also could one do a lvn to rn program obtaining a license this way?
Quote from sali22California is an interesting state with unconventional rules and regulations. The California Board of Registered Nursing will not grant licensure to RNs who graduated from Excelsior College after 2003, but the California Board of Vocational Nursing will issue LVN licensure to people who have not even graduated from a nursing program. It is one of those things that makes you go, "Hmmm...".This is very interesting, I really don't see how one can learn to be a nurse this way... But I guess if you can pass nclex.Oct 29, '12Why hmmmmm??? They are two separate boards with two separate board members who delegate the rulings. BVNPT also does not accept Excelsior.
Would like to add to the above that the 48 months of medical/surigcal (with adults) can also be gained in a long term/skilled facility in addition to the inpatient ward of a hospitalDec 4, '12Do you think this is a good route for a person who is in an RN program and is waiting to do her last semester of the program or would she have to enter an LVN program?Dec 6, '12Quote from blackrose52Do you have the required 51 months of paid experience accrued within the past 10 years?Do you think this is a good route for a person who is in an RN program and is waiting to do her last semester of the program or would she have to enter an LVN program?Dec 9, '12Quote from RNFionaThis is why many healthcare facilities in California require their applicants to have graduated from an approved school of nursing. Some employers are leery about hiring nurses who completed this option to attain licensure, too.I wouldn't want a nurse taking care of me who had no formal training. No offense.
Then again, former military medics who pursued this route to licensure usually turn out to be very good nurses because of their excellent training and enhanced scope of practice while in the armed services that allowed them to perform advanced skills.Jan 26, '14Paolo_pml, you just go to the CA Board of Nursing website & submit an application. There's an option on there (I think method 3 or 4), and they review whether or not you're qualified to take the NCLEX. You get the approval, take the NCLEX, and if you pass you're an LVN! I was a medic in the Air Force and did this last year, and had no problem getting a job as an LVN at a hospital.May 28, '14sali22-
Yes being a CNA on a Med-Surg floor is pretty much the only way you will qualify for this. I should know, because I did just that! Additionally, you CAN do an LVN to RN program in CA because most LVN-RN bridge programs simply require that you have 1,000 hours paid work experience. I should know, because I just graduated from an LVN to RN bridge program. Learning to be a Nurse is a variety of things including theory and clinical. If someone has the ability to pass the NCLEX-PN without a formal education, then they are, in my opinion, just as well qualified as the next LVN applicant who want to their local adult school and had 956 hours of shadowing a Nurse from the Philippines in a SNF.May 31, '14Hi I have a question I am a phil BSN grad batch 2007. I passed the local board july 2007. Now I am here in the US to challenge the LVN. But I don't have work experience. Do u think they will let me take the exam or is it a requirement to have to show work experience? I want to make sure before submitting my application cause I don't want to waste money. And if ever my school already provided the official copy for the TOR should I have the school mailed it to me? Or directly to the boards? Cause the instructions from the Board of LVN kinda confusing. ThanksJun 2, '14Im already an rn here in the philippines and im planning on taking the lvn test in california. I was just wondering what are school requirements i need to pass to the board..
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