Working as a Graduate Nurse

Some states allow new graduates to work as a graduate nurse (GN), which gives them the privileges of working as an R.N. prior to taking and passing the NCLEX. Not all states allow this, so you need to check with your state's Board of Registered Nursing.

You can find a list of all State Boards of Nursing at: This is the National Council on State Boards of Nursing. Web site addresses and contact information are given for all fifty states. They will include information or links to LPN/LVN boards as well.

In addition to the rules set by each state for graduate nurses, hospitals may impose even stricter regulations for GNs. For instance, a GN might be granted full R.N. privileges in a particular state except that she must sign documents with her GN status instead of using the R.N. However, the hospital this GN wishes to hire on at has a few additional restrictions: The GN is only allowed to work on the day shift (whether eight- or twelve-hour shifts) and must have a preceptor assigned to her. She may not perform any procedure until she is checked off by her preceptor. She may not dispense any controlled substance medications. Finally, she is not allowed to take verbal orders from an M.D.

The LVN/LPN does not have this GN status available to them, but in most instances, hospitals will hire student nurses and new graduates of any program to work as a UAP, patient care assistant (PCA), or nurse's aide until they take and pass the NCLEX.

An extensive Web site for LPN/LVN information can be found at This is the official site for the National Association for Practical Nurse Education & Service, Inc.

You can find an abundance of educational resources as well as employment opportunities and a place to read and voice your opinions about the nursing profession and in particular how it relates to the practical nurse.

For students who will not be able to work as GNs because their state law prohibits this, look for other opportunities for employment in the health care field such as techs in an emergency department (ED) or an EKG tech (electrocardiograph). These positions are often available to students as well as graduate nurses in addition to nursing assistant roles. Any of these positions will provide you a firsthand view of how a particular facility or hospital runs and whether it will offer you the experience you need once you get your license.

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