Each state and US territory is assigned a Board of Nursing. Boards of Nursing (BONs) are jurisdictional governmental agencies that are responsible for the regulation of nursing practice.

All 59 BONs are members of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). The expectation of each BON is to regulate the practice of nursing using defined nursing standards. Each state has their own version of the Standards of Nursing Practice.

Boards of Nursing are challenged to protect the health and welfare of the public by assuring that only competent and safe nursing care is being provided by licensed nurses. This is achieved by defining and outlining the standards for safe nursing care and issuing licenses to practice nursing.

There are four main focus areas for nursing boards: education, practice, licensure, and discipline.

The BON's arm of education encompasses topics such as nursing school curriculum approval, online nursing programs, continuing education unit (CEU) regulations, evidenced-based nursing education, simulation standards for schools, and publications.

The regulation of nursing practice assures each state has clearly defined standards of how nurses perform care, manage delegation to team members, and overall scope of nursing practice. Each state has clearly written standards of nursing practice that support the Nursing Practice Act.

Licensure is the process by which BONs grant permission to individuals to engage in nursing practice once all of the requirements of skill and competency are met. There are typically three components of nursing licensure:

  • Verification or pre-verification of graduation from an approved nursing program
  • Verification of successful completion of the National Council License Exam (NCLEX)
  • A criminal background check (varies by state)

This division is also responsible to issue U.S. nursing licenses for internationally education nurses.

The discipline process for BONs is intended to be a thorough and formal process. The BONs are responsible to protect the public from the risk of harm from nurses in the form of reasonable laws to regulate nursing. These laws are based on the Nursing Practice Act and allow the BONs to issue appropriate levels of discipline, up to and including termination of a nursing license. When violations occur or a complaint is filed, the BON will review the complaint and investigate the complaint. If there is merit to the complaint or a violation has occurred, the BON will go through a series of algorithms to ensure a consistent and reasonable outcome.

There are several disciplinary actions a BON may issue:

  • Monetary fine or civil action
  • Alternative discipline such as that for drug dependency
  • Public reprimand or censure
  • Education, monitoring or remediation
  • Limited license restriction
  • Suspension of license
  • Revocation of license

Contact your own state's Board of Nursing to view specific publications and resources.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
Latest posts by Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN (see all)
  • Nurse Manager Leadership Recommendations for Staff Engagement and Success - January 2, 2018

Our Visitors Found These Nursing Topics Useful

Amid Surging COVID Infections and Increasing Hospital Restrictions, Fearful Pregnant Moms Demand Alternative Birthing Options

There are still many things we don't know about the COVID-19 infection and its effects on pregnancy. As the pandemic continues to overwhelm hospitals across the country, there has been a massive surge in requests from alarmed pregnant women to…

Surgincal mask with airplane COVID-19

How Nurses Are Keeping Up With Practice Agreement Changes During COVID-19

When 2020 started, it was thought to be the "year of the nurse" as it marked the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. Nurses and nurse practitioners were in for a big surprise, as their dedication and loyalty to the profession…

Male Nurse Drinking Coffee on Break

Are Breaks and the 12-Hour Shift Being Dealt a Bad Hand?

When Senator Maureen Walsh made a flippant remark this week about nurses playing cards during their shifts, nurses across the globe went crazy. But for those who actually reviewed the footage of the now-sorry senator from Washington state, the request…

Nurse Cancer Patient

Nursing Care for a Mesothelioma Patient

The journey for any cancer patient is a terrifying experience. For those rare patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, the pathway is no different, yet with typically a very poor prognosis of a median survival rate of 8-12 months. Nursing care of…

Empty Hospital at Bed Night

10 Tips for Night Shift Nurses

Most nurses will spend a little time, if not their whole careers, working the night shift. Typically, this shift is defined as starting at least an hour prior to midnight and ending at least an hour after midnight. No matter…