It can take a lot of work to become a licensed nurse. And after all of those years of schooling, on top of taking NCLEX–the last thing you’d want to happen is for your nursing license to expire.
But sometimes situations arise where a nurse may leave the workforce (such as having children or seeking a new career), and eventually, there comes a time in every nurse’s life when it is time to hang up the scrubs for good (retirement).
Nevertheless, you will still probably get those license renewal forms in the mail asking you to renew your nursing license (along with a fee, of course). So should you renew your nursing license if you are no longer a nurse? What if you leave temporarily? Or if you retire?
We received a question about this:
My RN license expired 06/30/12. I have been retired since April 2010. When I got the the renewal notice, I placed a phone call. I did not get the name of the person I spoke to but I understood I do not have to pay a renewal fee. I don’t plan to go to work again. Today I received a delinquent notice. Am I supposed to pay a renewal fee even though I’m retired?
Do You Have to Renew Your Nursing License?
First let’s just address this question regarding a delinquent notice. From what you described, it seems to me that they are assuming you are still working as a nurse, or plan on renewing your license. So this was probably just an automated notice mailed to you with that assumption of you still working.
You should not have to renew your license unless you plan on working as a nurse. In your case, just to be 100% sure, I’d call and let them no that you are retired. From that point, perhaps they can remove you from their system. Then, you won’t have to worry about future mailings.
In addition, you can inquire about the charge to make 100% sure that you don’t have to pay any final renewal fees (which I would assume you shouldn’t, unless you had a balance previously for delinquent fees).
Should Nurses Pay To Renew a License If They Change Careers?
Now let’s switch gears and address the issue of whether or not nurses should continue to renew their license if they switch careers. In my opinion: ABSOLUTELY!
The fact is, you never know how your career may go, and it is a lot easier paying a fee every so often to keep that license active, than to go through all the hoops once you let it expire. Granted, some states may require so many hours of work too (in addition to the fee), but this is usually easy to obtain in the form of taking a few classes, or even a few part time shifts.
But since the economy and the work force is so shaky, I’d definitely hang on to my license until I was 100% sure I was never going to need it.
If your second career doesn’t pan out, then you have a safety net and plenty of opportunities to continue working in a good paying career (nursing).
Should Nurses Pay To Renew Their License After Retirement?
Again, I’d say yes–at least, for a few years. Most people retire in their early-to-mid 60’s. Yet, we are still generally capable of work up until our late 60’s, or even 70’s. I’ve even read stories of nurses much older than that working (ie, nurses in their 80’s).
Even though retirement is a great time, the truth is, I’d still probably renew my license if possible.
You just never know if we got into some dire economic situation (and the current news doesn’t help my confidence much). Plus, there is always a threat of wars, financial calamity, or that somehow your nest egg could go faster than you thought.
I’d say it is always a good idea for the small investment to keep it active.
Then again, I guess it depends on how much your state charges for renewals, and also how much you’d have to pay (and what hoops you’d have to jump through) to get it re-instated.
If it costs thousands in your state, obviously it may not be worth it. But if it is just $50-100, I’d definitely consider it.
If I live to around 70-72, I definitely think I’d consider letting it expire. But before then, assuming my health is in top shape, I’d probably keep it active (just in case). Even if you no longer practiced nursing, it could help to have it on a resume for teaching, or other activities that are less strenuous.
Final Note About License Renewals
We occasionally get emails asking us to renew or verify licenses on this website. We do not deal with these issues. This is up to the State Board of Nursing. So for help with this, just find your state and they can help with those issues.