Nurse Practice Acts

Nursing Knowledge

Nurse Practice Acts

Nurse practice acts (NPAs) serve as foundational legal frameworks that define the scope and boundaries of nursing practice in each U.S. state. They aim to protect the public by ensuring that every nurse provides safe and competent care to patients. Every nurse, from novices to seasoned professionals, must familiarize themselves with their state’s NPA to ensure they operate within the law and uphold the highest standards of care in their clinical practice.
Last updated: December 4, 2023


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What is the nurse practice act? 

The U.S. nurse practice act (NPA) is a legislation on state level guiding the scope of practice for all levels of nurses. It represents all laws that regulate a nurse’s scope of practice in the state in which the nurse is licensed, as well as the regulations for the level of a nurse’s educational and licensure requirements. 

Typical elements included in a nurse practice act are, among others: 

  • Clear definitions of all aspects and roles of nursing
  • Detailed descriptions of the scope of practice of each role 
  • Licensure requirements
  • Grounds for disciplinary action
  • Educational program standards
  • Advanced practice regulations 
  • Establishment of a State Board of Nursing 

The frequency of updates varies, but most states review their NPAs regularly. Changes in healthcare, technology, or public need can prompt revisions. It’s a good practice to check your state’s Board of Nursing website regularly or be part of a professional nursing organization to stay updated.

What is the purpose of the nurse practice act? 

The primary goal of nurse practice acts is to protect citizens’ rights by ensuring that nurses provide safe and competent nursing care via established standards and codes of ethics.

It’s imperative for new nurses to familiarize themselves with their state’s NPA and regularly review it throughout their careers.

List of state nurse practice acts

Alabama nurse practice act
Arizona nurse practice act
California nurse practice act
Colorado nurse practice act
Florida nurse practice act
Illinois nurse practice act
Indiana nurse practice act
Louisiana nurse practice act
Maryland nurse practice act
Massachusetts nurse practice act
Michigan nurse practice act
Missouri nurse practice act
Nevada nurse practice act
Ohio nurse practice act
Pennsylvania nurse practice act
South Carolina nurse practice act
Texas nurse practice act
Utah nurse practice act
Virginia nurse practice act
Wisconsin nurse practice act

If your state is not listed here, the NCSBN provides a useful tool to find your state’s NPA here. 

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