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Route to FNP | State Licensing & Furnishing

You've worked hard, finished your nurse practitioner (NP) program, and now passed your nurse practitioner board exams. Whoo hoo! If you're like me, you're an FNP (family nurse practitioner). You're certified by either AANP or ANCC (or me!). Now, you're probably wondering what the next steps are, and I'm here to help and post about it as I myself go along! If I make any edits to this post, I'll note it and the date of the update in italics.

First of all, congratulations on passing your board exam! Regardless of which board exam you took, you're now a certified family nurse practitioner! This is pretty much the very first step to the credentialing process. By becoming "credentialed" by a facility (hospital, clinic, long-term care, etc), you will be able to bill for the services you provide. Now, as I mentioned before, you passed boards so you're certified, but that doesn't mean that you're licensed just quite yet.

Disclaimer: The steps in post will be relevant no matter what state you practice in, although some of the things (ie. processing time) will be California specific because that is where I am planning to practice and can speak on from personal experience.

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Remember how you have to be state licensed as a registered nurse (RN) in order to practice? The same is that as an NP for certain states. Some states actually do not require that you're licensed before practicing, although times are changing and things are getting tougher, especially when it comes to NP's being able to bill for services. For California, you will need your license to practice. Because of how popular the market is in California, you should also plan to get your furnishing license as well (instead of waiting/hoping for an employer to pay for this). Having a furnishing license will allow you to prescribe medication and is required in order for you to get your drug enforcement agency (DEA) license. Thus, the furnishing license is pretty much something all future employers want you to have already completed prior to hire. The state NP license and the furnishing license are the lengthiest part of this process in terms of the wait time, so be sure to submit both at the same time that way the processing time won't be doubled!

Nicole's FNP Pro Tip: You can and should submit your application for nurse practitioner licensure and nurse practitioner furnishing at least 3 months before graduation. Some forums even state applying as early as 6 months before graduation. In either case, you will still need to pay the fees when submitting your applications and have up to 1 year to complete (pass) your board exam, as it is part of the application. Yes, you can submit both applications without having taken boards; it just won't be processed until you send the board verification that you passed!

Did you read my FNP Pro Tip above? If not, you really should, so you can decide for yourself how you want to approach this. Take a look at my personal experience applying for NP state licensure and furnishing below.

My Experience Applying for NP State Licensure & Furnishing

For me, I didn't follow my school's advice to submit the NP licensure and NP furnishing applications 3 months before graduation.

Why not?

At the time, I hadn't taken the HESI FNP Exit Exam (one of the graduation requirements by the school), and I didn't want to pay about $1,000 only to find out I didn't pass the exam and would have to retake the exam to graduate. So, needless to say, the task of completing both applications kept moving from one day to the next on my "To Do" list. I passed the exit test, which was a relief!

Then, it was finally the final quarter of the program, and my NP classmates and I found out we had to pass a multi-station OSCE (objective structured clinical examination) in order to graduate because that, too, apparently was part of the requirements to graduate. So, of course, those applications just got pushed further back. We didn't find out our scores until about 2 weeks after graduation. By that time, I had already scheduled my AANP and ANCC exams. Once again, the applications were not of priority (or so I thought). I spent my time moving out of my apartment, working, and studying for the exams.

In hindsight, these were excuses. I could have made the time to complete the applications if I had really wanted to. But I didn't because "what if" I fail the boards? Then I would have wasted $1,000 on the applications. So I waited until the day of boards.

AANP was the first board exam I took, and I got the preliminary "Pass" after I submitted the test. I was absolutely excited and ready to submit those applications (finally)! Remember, you only need to pass either of the board exams to get licensed. I submitted both applications on July 17th, 2019.

Now, it's currently September 18th, 2019, and both of my applications have just processed, and I am state licensed and able to furnish! Prior to this, my applications sat with the status of "pending," which means that they have not been looked over yet. The California Board of Registered Nursing (CA BRN) has a website that lists their processing times for licenses (you would want to go down the first column of the chart and look at the "Advanced Practice Certification" row). The processing times chart is updated weekly. When I submitted my applications, I checked the chart and it stated "12-14 weeks" for the processing time, so this week is week 8 for me. I'm lucky that my licenses processed quicker than the time frame listed, but be prepared to wait up to that maximum.

Let me tell you briefly my job hunting experience with being certified but not state licensed yet. I have applied to several jobs before taking the boards and after taking the boards, just to see if I could land a job beforehand. I've gotten most of my interviews right as I got closer to taking the boards and after taking boards. Of the places I interviewed, most were "interested in [me] but wanted [me] to be licensed and to be able to furnish first."

And, there you have it, friends. If you didn't keep your RN job during NP school, getting an NP job may take some time. If you kept your RN job (like me, per diem) during NP school, the wait to get a NP job is not fun, but at least you have a way to support yourself as you await your applications to process.

Of the NP class size of 20 people (the rest were physician assistant [PA] students), there were probably only 1-2 people who followed the time frame given by the school. Their NP licenses were already up and posted weeks before mine were. There is one classmate I know of who submitted his NP license application (so he's now licensed), but did not submit his furnishing application at the same time. He's now stuck with the 12-14 week processing time for that.

Another thing to keep in mind about your NP and furnishing licenses is that they are linked to your RN license. What does this mean? Although the NP and furnishing licenses are typically renewed every 2 years, your initial NP and furnishing licenses may be set to expire earlier than the 2 year renewal mark. That is, if your RN license expires before then. For example, if your RN license expires January 2020, and you were issued your NP license and furnishing in June 2019, your NP license and furnishing should technically expire in June 2021, right? But, because your RN license expires in January 2020, your NP license and furnishing will be set to expire in January 2020 as well. If you're in this boat, I honestly don't know what you could do except to try talking with the CA Board of Nursing. Ultimately, to renew, you would have to pay those NP licensing and furnishing fees again.

Now that I've told about how important the timeliness of your applications are, let me list out things you would want to have ready as you prepare to complete these applications. First of all, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the Breeze website. You will need to log in and choose to begin a new application -- one for nurse practitioner and one for nurse practitioner furnishing. Be sure to read and choose your selections carefully! You can also opt to submit the application by mail (see the CA BRN website for the applications).

Things You Need For The
Nurse Practitioner Licensure Application

  1. Submit application online via Breeze website. You can also opt to submit the application by mail. You'll need all the usual application things: school names, school addresses, your name and information, etc.
  2. Once you pass AANP or ANCC (and have received the official certificate with your number on them), log on to the respective site and order a verification of certification to be sent to the CA BRN. Remember, this is needed in order for your application to be processed or else your application will not be considered complete.
  3. Passport picture 2"x2" on the applicant identity form. There is a part of the application near the end that allows you to upload this.
  4. Pay the application fee of $500.

Things You Need For The
Nurse Practitioner Furnishing Application

  1. Submit application online via Breeze website. You can also opt to submit the application by mail. You'll need all the usual application things: school names, school addresses, your name and information, etc.
  2. Fill out the NP furnishing application identity form. Have it ready to be uploaded near the end of the application.
  3. Pay the application fee of $400.
  4. Have your school fill out and submit this accompanying form (I couldn't find the form alone. It is pretty much page 2 of the PDF I linked). My school automatically did this for us, so check with your individual school how they go about filling out the form.

Once you get your state license and your furnishing license, you can consider step 2 of the nurse practitioner credentialing process done!

[ Total of 6 Steps ]

1. Pass the board exam. For FNP's specifically, it will be either the AANP or ANCC. Check out my pasts posts if you're deciding on which one to take or in need of board exam study tips!

2. State license and furnishing application. Submit at same time. Can submit 3-6 months before graduation. Total cost of $900 for California. May be up to 12-14 weeks processing time for California.

Coming Soon: Step 3 -- The NPI (National Provider Identifier) Application

Disclaimer: There may be additional steps past step 6, depending on your individual employer.

Please see my individual posts for each for more detailed information as well as my personal experience with the particular step.

I hope you find all of this information and my personal experience helpful to you as you get yourself state licensed and furnished! Feel free to reach out or leave a comment with questions or your experiences becoming a California nurse practitioner!

Nicole G.
@nextwithnicole // @nursenicoleg

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