Board of Nursing, created in 1911 through the State Legislature’s act and signed into law by the former Governor, Ben W. Hooper.

The TN board of nursing mission is to safeguard the safety, welfare and health of Tennesseans by requiring that everyone practicing nursing within the state of Tennessee is licensed and qualified to practice.

The board’s responsibilities center around 3 board functions:

  1. Licensure
  2. Education
  3. Practice


 TN Board of Nursing Licensure and License Renewal


Licensure is the process through which boards of nursing give permission to a person to engage in the nursing practice after deciding that the applicant has met or attained the competency essential to perform a single scope of practice. Licensure is crucial when the controlled activities are complex and need independent decision making, specialized skill, and knowledge. The process of licensure is essential to decide if the applicants have the necessary skills to safely & appropriately do a particular scope of practice. The process is conducted by evaluating licensure and predetermining the criteria required to find if the applicants meet the criteria.

Components of nursing licensure include:

  • Eligibility of graduation or verification of graduation from an approved pre-licensure LVN/PN or RN nursing education program
  • Verification of successful completion of NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN examination
  • In some states, a criminal background check

To start the licensure process, the applicant searches the particular state board of nursing website for applications. A licensed nurse has various responsibilities that include adherence to and knowledge of the rules and laws which govern nursing as clearly outlined in the Practice Act and regulations. Nurses can check the nursing rules and law by locating their state nurse practice act and regulations.

The TN board of nursing offers licenses to licensed registered nurses, advanced practice nurses and practical nurses who satisfy the requirements of the rules and statutes. Only graduates of certified schools of nursing are qualified to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), required for licensure. In 2009, a legislation was passed authorizing the board to issue Medication Aide Certificates to nurse aides who have other training in board approved medication administration programs. Medication Aides must complete the Medication Aide Certification Exam (MACE) for licensure.

Practical and Registered nurses may be licensed by endorsement or examination from another state. Once licensed, the nurses can renew their licenses every 2 years. The administrative office mails renewal notices 45 days before the license expiration to the current file address. Licensees are responsible to renew on time and keep the board updated on current information. Licenses can also be renewed online up to 60 days before license expiration at Click/select the ‘License Renewal’ link and follow the hints. It is a violation of the board’s rules and of the law to practice on an expired license.

TN Board of Nursing: Education of Applicants


The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops leading initiatives, programs and resources for boards of nursing responsible for regulating and approving nursing education programs. In addition, NCSBN collaborates with nurse educators, nursing education organizations and other participants and stakeholders in national nursing education initiatives and meetings. NCSBN has a role to keep nurse educators and boards of nursing updated on the latest research, resources and news in nursing education through the bi-annual Leader to Leader magazine.

The Tennessee board of nursing is also authorized to issue Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) certificates, with or with no certificate to prescribe to RNs in 4 roles: Nurse anesthetists, Nurse practitioners, Nurse midwives and Clinical nurse specialists.

Qualifications include:

  • Current registered nurse licensure
  • A Master’s degree in a nursing specialty area
  • Three quarter hours of Pharmacology
  • National certification
  • Evidence of specialized practitioner skills

An APN certificate with no prescriptive authority is issued when the nurse doesn’t meet the pharmacology qualification as well as for applicants meeting particular provisions.

The board of nursing prescribes a curriculum for every nursing program online, distance, on the ground or through other electronic means. The board also approves schools of nursing that meet board standards on an annual basis. New schools go through an approval process that includes a survey of the program. Schools that don’t meet the standards are investigated plus the board is authorized to close the program or place the school under conditional approval if the standards are not met.

Program approval forms an integral part of the process of state licensure because it ensures standards are met. On the other hand national nursing accreditation evaluates the quality of nursing programs, but from a national perspective.

TN Board of Nursing: Tennessee Nurses Foundation


Tennessee Nurses Foundation, on contract with the board, provides professional assistance or help to nurses with emotional, mental, physical, and/or chemical dependency problems. The monitoring & referral program, supported by renewal fees and licensure, provides a very important service to protect the public as well as aid in the nurses’ rehabilitation.

The board assists in discharge of duties by employing an RN executive director. The Division of Health Related Boards along with the professional & administrative staff of the nursing board supports the board by giving out licenses to those who satisfy the requirements of the rules and law.

TN board of nursing consists of 11 members appointed by the Governor for 4-year terms or until the appointment of their successors. In 2012, legislation was passed to transition the board’s composition to the following:

  • Nine advanced practice nurses or registered nurses
  • One licensed practical nurse
  • One consumer member (This member isn’t a nurse and isn’t professionally or commercially associated with the healthcare industry)

Members can be selected from lists of nominees that are submitted by their corresponding organizations for each appointment.

The Tennessee board of nursing meets quarterly for general meetings and as required for special/called meetings. A quorum of 6 members is required or responsible to conduct business. Meetings are often open to the public.

 TN Board of Nursing: Discipline


The provision of nursing care can result to rise in the risk of harm basic to that care. States are responsible to protect the public from the risk of harm using reasonable laws that regulate nursing. The laws are classified in the nurse practice act along with its accompanying regulations to set up a Board of Nursing (BON), plus to guide and to govern nursing care. Even though most nurses are caring and competent people providing standard care, violations of the nursing practice act do occur. The TN board of nursing is responsible to interpret the laws, administrative rules & regulations, and statutes to decide the correct standards of practice to make sure the highest level of professional conduct. The board also investigates alleged violations of the rules and the nurse Practice Act. The board has a further responsibility to discipline and impose civil penalties on the licensees found guilty of such violations. The governor appoints board members with a few exceptions.

 TN Board of Nursing: License Verification


The website verification system “Tennessee Health Related Board”, is the official Health Related Board’s licensure verification site. The site has data obtained from original/primary sources and updated daily. If you are required to offer a written verification of licensure, please contact the right board for applicable procedures or fees.

For License verification, enter details in one/more of the following fields: Abuse Data and/or Disciplinary Practitioner Profile, and you will be presented with license verification results, if applicable. In case you encounter any problems or issues with the verification system, contact the proper board.

 TN Board of Nursing: Practice

The Tennessee board of nursing addresses the performance of specific acts that regulate the scope of practice that the nurse is licensed. Nurses can delegate various nursing acts to Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (UAP), but its appropriateness has been often questionable. The TN board of nursing plays an important role in determining guidelines and decision-making models to help in verifying if a given function is met in a nurse’s scope of practice. This assists nurses to decide whether a practice act should be delegated.

NCSBN supports its vision of leading the regulation of the nurse practice, by producing innovative initiatives and materials to support nursing boards in their duty to regulate nursing practice.

 TN Board of Nursing: Nurse Practice Act


Each territory or state has a common law known as Nurse Practice Act, which is imposed by every nursing board. Nurses must adhere to the laws and related rules so that they can maintain their licenses. TN board of nursing enforces:

  1. Qualifications for licensure
  2. Nursing titles allowed to be used
  3. Scope of practice — What nurses are allowed to do
  4. Actions that will be taken against a nurse who doesn’t follow the nursing laws. Every state determines particular administrative responsibilities and oversights of the boards of nursing. The TN board of nursing reports to:
  • The state’s governor
  • Both the state agency and the governor
  • A state agency
  • Another organization or state official

Overall, the TN board of nursing is an agency of the state government, that is responsible to regulate the nursing practice. State governments established boards of nursing, over100 years ago, protecting public’s welfare and health by ensuring and overseeing safe nursing practice. Boards of nursing attain this mission by issuing licenses to the practice of nursing and outlining the principles or guidelines for safe nursing care. After licensure or once a license has been issued, the nursing board’s work continues by monitoring the licensees’ compliance with state laws, rules & regulations, as well as taking appropriate action against licenses of nurses displaying unsafe nursing practice.

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