About U.S. Boards of Nursing

What are Boards of Nursing?

Boards of Nuring (BONs) are jurisdictional governmental agencies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and four US territories that are responsible for the regulation of nursing practice.

More than 100 years ago, state and territorial governments established BONs to protect the public's health and welfare by overseeing and ensuring the safe practice of nursing. BONs achieve this mission by outlining the standards for safe nursing care and issuing licenses to practice nursing. Once a license is issued, the board's job continues by monitoring licensees' compliance to jurisdictional laws and taking action against the licenses of those nurses who have exhibited unsafe nursing practice.

All 59 BONs in the U.S. are Member Boards of NCSBN.  

The Nurse Practice Act

Each jurisdiction has a law called the Nurse Practice Act, which is enforced by each BON. Nurses must comply with the law and related rules in order to maintain their licenses. The law describes: 

  • Qualifications for licensure
  • Nursing titles that are allowed to be used 
  • Scope of practice (what the nurse is allowed to do) 
  • Actions that can or will happen if the nurse does not follow the nursing law  


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