What is the National Council of State Boards of Nursing?

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) safeguards patient safety and promotes nursing excellence through rigorous licensure examinations and unwavering commitment to nursing regulation.
What is the National Council of State Boards of Nursing?

Chances are, if you are a nursing student or recent nursing graduate, you have probably heard about the national licensing exam for nurses, more commonly known as the NCLEX. But have you heard about the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN)? And even if you have heard of the NCSBN, do you know what they do and how it will affect you as a new nursing professional? This is where we can help!

Tasks of the NCSBN

Perhaps the main thing that the NCSBN is known for is administering the all-important NCLEX to recent LPN and RN graduates. And while this is definitely a crucial task, it is not the only task that the organization is responsible for. Other important tasks performed by the NCSBN are as follows:

  • Ensuring that patients receive safe and high-quality healthcare
  • Developing the NCLEX exams in a way that they can effectively measure the proficiency levels of LPN and RN candidates
  • Keeping the content and structure of the NCLEX exams up-to-date with the latest medical and technical advancements
  • Providing nursing graduates with study aids and guides to help them pass the NCLEX
  • Creating policies and regulations pertaining to the nursing profession and public healthcare
  • Supporting healthcare and nursing-related research

History of the NCSBN

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing traces its roots back to 1978 when it was known as the American Nurses Association Council of State Boards of Nursing. It was formed as a not-for-profit organization with the goal of ensuring patient safety and quality healthcare in medical facilities within the United States.

To achieve this goal, the NCSBN recognized the need to regulate the licensing of nurses by requiring them to pass a carefully designed licensing exam before they could begin practicing in the medical field. As such, the organization began administering the NCLEX to nursing graduates in 1994.

Members of the NCSBN

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing is a nationwide organization that consists of members from all across the country. It also comprises a diverse group of members who hold different positions within the organization itself. A sample of these members can be found listed below:

  • State Boards of Nursing in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands
  • 27 Associate Members (nursing regulatory bodies in countries and territories outside of the United States)
  • A Board of Directors (currently 11 members consisting of a president, a president-elect, a treasurer, four area directors, and four directors-at-large)


No discussion of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing would be complete without addressing the NCLEX exams. Ensuring that nursing candidates successfully complete the NCLEX is one of the NCSBN's primary goals. To help you better understand the NCLEX, we have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about the exam along with their corresponding short answers.


What are the current requirements to take the NCLEX?


Each Board of Nursing has its own requirements for taking the NCLEX. However, common requirements include completion of an approved nursing program, CPR certification, a background check, and registration with your Board of Nursing.


How do I apply for a seat to take the NCLEX?


The first step is to contact your State Board of Nursing, which will send you a testing packet. This packet will guide you through the registration process, from registering with the board and locating a testing center to applying for a seat and paying your exam fee.


How soon after graduating can I take the NCLEX?


You can take your test as early as three weeks after you graduate from an approved nursing program. Once you have completed the requirements in your testing packet and received your Authorization to Test form, you can immediately request a testing date.


What is the current fee to take the NCLEX?


The answer to this question may vary due to the possibility of the test fee increasing over time. However, the current exam fee is approximately $200. This price does not include the fees you will need to pay for your nursing license and criminal background check, which may also vary.


If I fail the NCLEX, can I take it again?


Most State Boards of Nursing do allow retakes of the exam, but you will be required to wait as long as 45 days before you can apply for a retake. Depending on your State Board of Nursing, you may need to acquire additional training after several failed attempts.

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