I'll be an Army Nurse - Do I need to be licensed in a state?


Good Morning!

I've been an active duty Army officer for about 10 years now; currently I'm finishing a program where the Army sent me to a civilian institution to complete a degree in nursing and then return to a military hospital. I graduate next month and have just registered with Pearson Vue to take the NCLEX. My school (University of Tennessee) is very proactive in assisting the students apply to the Tennessee Board of Nursing for licensure in this state.

So my question is, do I need to be licensed in a state to practice as a nurse, or is passing the NCLEX all I need (for the military)? Or is there some benefit to me being licensed in a state?

I would greatly appreciate your help! This is all greek to me!




188 Posts

Specializes in ED.

You need a license for the state you are practicing in. Many states now even have reciprocity.

But once you pass the NCLEX it is usually just a matter of paying a fee and filling out some paperwork to the state you want to practice in to get their license, in other words no additional test or anything.


355 Posts

When you are in the military, you do need to hold a state license, but it doesn't matter which one. You are practicing at the federal level, not the state level, so you just have to have an RN license. I'm actually really surprised that no one has explained that to you. It probably makes sense to either just do it in the state you're going to school in or even your HOR, especially if you have any intentions of settling there when you get out. If you stay within the federal system (MTF, VA, etc), even after you get out, it follows the same rule, and you just have to have a state license, regardless of which one.


68 Posts

Specializes in CVICU. Has 4 years experience.

You'll only need to get and maintain one license...it'll be in whatever state your choose but preferably in your "home of record" state so that you can receive mailings from your licensing agency. When you work in a federal facility your license does not have to be from the state that facility is in. However, you have to maintain your license according to the rules of your licensing state (i.e. renewal requirements, etc.).

My husband is also an army nurse (reserves), we live in SC, he works at the local VA Medical Center (federal) and holds a license from the state of GA (which is not a compact state). He is not required to get a SC license unless he decides he wants to work at a local (non-federal) hospital/agency.


14 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Nurse Leader.

Thanks everyone, this really helps. Unfortunately I'm part of a student detachment and have never physically seen anybody from my unit. They just ask for me to email in my APFT and my grades...and that's the only contact I get from them! :)

Based on your input, I think I'll apply to Washington State Board of Nursing since it's close to home and plus I'll be stationed at Fort Lewis.

Thanks again everyone!


Specializes in Hospital, med-surg, hospice. Has 32 years experience.



14 Posts

Specializes in Clinical Nurse Leader.

Thank you :)