The moment I got married, the reality of moving to the States with my husband became inevitable. And the first thing that entered my mind: I’ll really have to take the NCLEX-RN exam if I wanted to continue practicing my profession in the very near future. But the process will be very long and tedious considering the fact that I’m a foreign nurse graduate. As a beginner, I had no clue on how to start, where to go, what to do. So I started doing some online research, participate in various online nursing forums, and ask friends/nurses who not only had experience with the application, but those who already passed the exam – with the USRN next to their names. I know how confusing the whole process is, and that’s why after going through the whole thing, I decided it was time for me to share and help.
1. Figure out the requirements of the Board of Nursing in the State where you want to be licensed at.
You can check your State BON website here. In my case, Alaska BON required from its foreign applicants a valid English exam result, and CGFNS-CES report.
It took a long time before I was able to send my actual application to them because I needed to accomplish the CGFNS requirement first. For my IELTS, I actually had to retake it in the middle of my application because my first result was already past its 2-year validity. You can take a look on my IELTS experiences here, here, and here, and my CGFNS-CES processing here.
2. Download and accomplish the application form from the website. Have it signed and notarized.
Aside from this, I was also instructed to attach a passport type 2×2 photo taken within the last 6 months.
3. Prepare/submit the appropriate fees.
I was given the 2 options with regards to the application fee. $284 for the application + license + fingerprint processing fees; and $334 if I wanted to request for an additional temporary permit, but I’m not working anytime soon, so I just took the first option. I decided to pay using my debit card, so I downloaded this form:
4. Request for and obtain a Fingerprint card.
The requesting is the easy part, waiting for the physical fingerprint card will take some time. After around 2 weeks, I received the mail, including 2 cards (the other one is just an extra, for errors) and an instruction on how to obtain valid fingerprints. I went to the NBI office and had my fingerprints taken by a lady officer. There’s usually no fee for this, but I still gave her a hundred, something for snacks. And after a long thought, I realized I might’ve been a little too generous. :p
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5. Download the Nursing Program Verification form and submit it to school.
For this one I accomplished part 1, then gave it to my school for them to accomplish part 2. Like the CGFNS form, I had to wait for one week before getting it done.
Okay, so you might observe I haven’t sent anything to the Alaska Board of Nursing yet. Sending documents to Alaska isn’t cheap so I wanted to make sure everything is ready so I can put all things in just one big envelope. Aside from the ones mentioned above, I also had a certified copy of my latest IELTS result.
So to save money, here are the documents that I prepared to send:
Big Envelope 1:
- Accomplished, signed, notarized application form, with photo
- Credit card payment form
- Accomplished Fingerprint card
- Certified copy of my IELTS result
- The envelope from my school, containing the accomplished Nursing Verification form
- A small note that I have accomplished and separately sent an Exception for SSN form
- An accomplished Exception for SSN form
So for this one, the BON requires that applicants have social security number, which I don’t have yet at that time. Luckily, I can fill out this exception form and send it to the authorized office/department. Unluckily too, it’s in a different address so that means I’ll have to mail it separately – another expense. So you also have to make sure that the State where you want to be licensed at does not require SSN, or if they do, they can grant some exemptions like the one I had.
So I sent both via Fedex – paid a more than P2,800 in total. I’m broke! o_O
After a week, I got an email from the AK BON regarding the status of my application:
Shoot! My money-saving idea didn’t work! Actually, It made me spend even more than I should.
So after careful planning this time, what I did next was…
6. Contact the Division to pay the fees.
I just spoke with one of the officers and gave my debit card info. That simple! It’s still an international call, so, you know the fees.. -_-
7. I’m back to step number 5.
But this time, after going back and getting the whole thing from school, I went straight to the post office and mailed it. Our local post office also have this Express Mail Service which is just around 2 days slower than Fedex, but more than P400 cheaper.
8. Contact the IDP Australia office for the official IELTS result.
For this one, I wasn’t really sure how to start and where to go. So what I did was, I went to the review center, talked to the officers who helped me with my IELTS application, and luckily, they have the form that I needed to accomplish to request my testing center (IDP Australia) to send the AK BON my official results. All in all, I paid them more than P1000 for the processing and the sending of the said document.
9. Wait, wait and wait.
So after more than 4 months of waiting (I sent my application early December, but found out I had to retake the IELTS exam because my first result was more than 2 years old already), I received the BON’s approval letter.
..and another email:
10. Register with PearsonVue for the NCLEX-RN examination.
I didn’t do this until after a month, because that was also the time when I was preparing and fixing everything that I needed for my Stateside move. ^_^
So by the time I was already in Alaska, I started with the PearsonVue registration.
After clicking the credit (debit) card option, I started making an account (the registration process). Here, personal and contact infos, as well as CGFNS certification number and educational infos were needed. For the nursing program code, just type Philippines and click search. I found out that many applicants had some problems with this part, because they add their city/province at the blank area below the country, and that’s what makes the error response. Just leave the “City” as is – blank. After this, select Philippines with program code 99-425 from the list of items, and then proceed with the payment details. Nclex-RN exam fee was $200.
A receipt of the said purchase/transaction and NCLEX registration acknwledgement will be sent to you via email right away. The time I got mine,I sent the BON a message informing them that I’ve already registered with the PearsonVue, and here’s their response:
11. Receive your Authorization to Test Letter.
Minutes later, the official ATT!
This information is important.
You should note that the validity of my ATT is from May 9, 2013 to May 9, 2014. However, the approval letter that I got from the BON (step no. 9) gave the specific instructions for me to take the exam within 1 year from April 9, 2013. That means, I can only schedule and take my exam until April 9, 2014 which makes my ATT ultimately and really valid for just 11 months. You’ll also have to make the same adjustment for your exam schedule.
ALSO, be aware of the ATT validity in your chosen state. It usually varies from 60 days to 365 days (I’m lucky that’s mine), usually 90 days – also based from what my friends tell me. So you have to make sure that you are intellectually ready to take the exam before registering with the PearsonVue because you get to receive your ATT almost right away where you are only given 24-48hours to schedule your exam.
12. Finally, schedule your NCLEX-RN exam.
Log in again to your PearsonVue account and click “schedule a test”. Here, you choose your testing center, you choose the date, and the time of your exam from the available options. You’ll then receive an Appointment Confirmation email, with specific instructions on how to get to the testing center. I scheduled mine on the 13th of July. I felt like a month more of extensive review is not enough for me, so I decided to go for 2 months. Why 13? That’s my lucky number! And that’s Saturday, my husband doesn’t have work, so he’ll be able to drop me off at the site. ^_^
Print the ATT because you’ll have to present that on the day of your exam, otherwise you will not be admitted. You’ll be required to reregister and repay another $200 to take the exam.
So that’s pretty much the procedure you need to go through to apply for the NCLEX-RN examination! Definitely not something that could be accomplished in a few weeks. But patience always pays off.. After that you’ll only have to worry about reviewing and becoming more confident for that big day! Well anything more you want to know or ask about, please feel free to comment. See you on my next blog!