Skip Navigation

Rules and Guidelines Governing the Graduate Vocational and Registered Nurse Candidates or Newly Licensed Vocational or Registered Nurse

The Board's mission is to protect and promote the welfare of the people of Texas by ensuring that each person holding a license as a nurse in the State of Texas is competent to practice safely. This mission, derived from the Nursing Practice Act, supersedes the interest of any individual, the nursing profession, or any special interest group. Adherence to the NPA, Rules, and Guidelines related to GVNs, GNs and newly licensed LVNs and RNs will help assure the safety of the clients these novice nurses encounter, as well as supplying the necessary support and guidance to the next generation of licensed nurses in Texas.

Requirements for Graduate Nurse Candidates to Practice Under Temporary Authorization:

In accordance with Rule 217.3(a): "A new graduate who completes an accredited basic nursing education program within the United States, its Territories, or Possessions and who applies for initial licensure by examination in Texas may be temporarily authorized to practice nursing as a graduate nurse (GN) or graduate vocational nurse (GVN) pending the results of the licensing examination." This temporary authorization is not renewable and will expire the earliest date of any of the following: (1) when the candidate passes the NCLEX-PNŽ or NCLEX-RNŽ test; (2) when the candidate fails the NCLEX-PNŽ or NCLEX-RNŽ test; (3) or on the 75th day following the effective date of the temporary authorization [217.3(2)].

Candidates graduating from nursing programs outside of the United States jurisdiction who are seeking Texas licensure through examination are not eligible for temporary authorization [Rule 217.4]. Licensure candidates who have previously failed the NCLEX-PNŽ or NCLEX-RNŽ are also ineligible for temporary permission to practice. A graduate of a nursing program within the United States jurisdiction may be deemed ineligible for temporary permission to practice based upon a Board determination under NPA Section 301.257 and Rule 213.30 relating to Declaratory Order of Eligibility for Licensure.

Verification of Temporary "Permission to Practice"

Effective January 1, 2006, a licensure candidate (GVN or GN) who meets Board requirements will be issued a temporary "permission to practice" via the Board's web site at www.bon.state.tx.us. Potential employers must verify that a licensure candidate has current temporary "permission to practice" via the web page or by phoning the Board at (512) 305-7400. Hard-copy (paper) temporary permits are no longer issued.

Expired or Invalid "Permission to Practice"

New graduates may not continue to practice as GVNs or GNs after failing the NCLEX-RNŽ or NCLEX-PNŽ , even if the expiration date of the temporary permission to practice has not expired. Employers must follow-up on the results of the new graduate’s test results, either by asking to see the new graduate’s test results, monitoring the issuance of a license using the automated phone line (512/305-7400), or utilizing the on-line licensure verification process on the Board’s web page. If the new graduate is allowed to continue to practice after receiving notice of failing the NCLEX-RNŽ or NCLEX-PNŽ , both the nurse manager and the new graduate may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board.

The Board will not issue a GVN or GN permission to practice until all application processes are complete, enabling the new graduate to be deemed eligible to sit for the NCLEX-PNŽ or NCLEX-RNŽ exam. The new graduate should schedule to sit for the applicable licensure exam as soon as possible because his/her Authorization To Test (ATT) is only active for a period of 75 days. If the new graduate does not test in time to receive a nursing license before the date that the permission to practice expires, the GVN or GN must cease practicing as a graduate nurse. There are no extensions for the temporary permission to practice as a GVN or GN based on failure to schedule the licensing examination.

Verification of Licensure

In accordance with Texas Occupations Code §301.254 (Nursing Practice Act), results of NCLEX-PNŽ or NCLEX-RNŽ are mailed to applicants within 30 days of testing. The new graduate may choose to participate in obtaining "quick results" from the test vendor (NCS Pearson) within 48 hours of testing; however, these quick results are unofficial and cannot be considered as evidence of successful exam completion until verified directly from NCS Pearson/VUE to the Board. Employers and/or candidates may use either the on-line licensure verification system or the automated phone line (512/305-7400) to verify whether the GVN or GN has been issued a license by using the licensure candidate's social security number. Please be aware that both the automated phone line and on-line verification systems will only verify that a license has been issued. Neither system will inform the caller about failure to pass the examination; therefore, absence of the GVN or GN on the applicable registry means only that a license has not been issued as of the date of inquiry. IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THAT THE GVN or GN HAS FAILED THE LICENSURE EXAM. Please do not call the Board office to inquire about examination results. Staff cannot release results over the telephone until at least 21 days after testing have elapsed.

Nursing Law Basics

Each licensure candidate as well as each newly licensed nurse in Texas is responsible to know and comply with the current Nursing Practice Act (NPA) and the Board Rules and Regulations. We recommend starting with the definitions of professional and vocational nursing in the NPA §301.002(2) and (5), and §301.353 relating to vocational nurse supervision. The two rules most often applied to nursing practice in any setting should also be studied: Rule 217.11, Standards of Nursing Practice, and Rule 217.12, Unprofessional Conduct. Both the NPA and Rules may be viewed in their entirety on the Board’s web page at www.bon.state.tx.us, or hard copies may be purchased (see "Publications Order Form" under "Forms" on the BON web page).

It is also the responsibility of each licensed nurse to maintain his/her knowledge of the most current NPA and Rules. The most current regulations can be found on our website. Updates are also printed in the Board's quarterly newsletter, the Texas Board of Nursing Bulletin, that is mailed to all current licensees who live within the United States. Archived issues of the Bulletin are also on the Board’s website.

Integration of the GVN, GN, or Newly Licensed Nurse Into Practice

Both the graduate nurse (GVN or GN) and the newly licensed nurse are in a transitional process from student to professional. As a novice practitioner, the GVN, GN or new LVN or RN is inexperienced and not fully integrated into his/her professional nursing role and setting. The Board believes it is essential during this transitional period for the new graduate or newly licenced nurse to seek and receive direction, supervision, consultation and collaboration from experienced nurses.

Rule 217.3(a)(3), Temporary Authorization to Practice, mandates that the new graduate who has been authorized to practice as either a GVN or GN pending the results of the licensing examination must work under the direct supervision of a licensed nurse. Vocational nursing graduates must work under the direct supervision of either a LVN or RN; registered professional nursing graduates must work under the direct supervision of a RN. "Direct supervision" means the licensed nurse is physically present in the facility or practice setting and is readily available to the GVN or GN for consultation and assistance. If the facility is organized into multiple units that are geographically distanced from each other, then the supervising nurse must be working on the same unit to which the new graduate is assigned.

A graduate nurse (GVN or GN) is not yet "licensed," and thus shall not be placed in supervisory or charge positions and shall not work in independent practice settings, such as home health. A licensure candidate (GVN or GN) must first achieve nursing licensure through passing the NCLEX-PN® or NCLEX-RN® prior to any consideration of employment involving charge nurse/nurse manager responsibilities or nursing in independent practice settings.

In addition to the rule language noted above, the Board provides the following guidance to employers of recent graduates of LVN or RN programs:

  1. Once licensed, direct supervision should be continued for a period of six months, or a lesser time period if agreed upon by the newly licensed nurse and the supervising nurse. Competence to perform independently should be mutually determined by the new graduate and the supervising nurse and should be demonstrated and supported by documentation.
  2. New graduates are permitted to perform any function that falls within the scope of nursing practice for which they have received educational preparation and have demonstrated minimal competency.
  3. It is recommended that a newly licensed nurse not hold a position as a charge nurse or nurse manager for a period of six (6) months, unless a lesser time period is mutually agreed upon by the newly licensed nurse and the supervising nurse based upon the evaluation of competency of the newly licensed LVN or RN.
  4. It is recommended that a newly licensed nurse not practice in independent settings, such as home health, for a period of 12-18 months post-licensure to allow the new nurse sufficient practice experience in more structured settings in order to assimilate knowledge learned in school consistently into practice.
  5. In any practice setting where new graduates are employed, experienced nurses should be willing to supervise and mentor the new graduate.