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From Military Medic to Nurse: How to challenge the California LVN (LPN) boards to become a nurse

Updated on December 6, 2012


I became an LVN back in 2007. I never set foot in a nursing school. I had never attended nursing school clinical classes. What did I have? I had at least a year of bedside nursing experience in the United States Armed Forces (the Air Force, to be specific) and challenged the boards, took the NCLEX-PN, and became an LVN making $45,000 a year to start.

The Law

In the state of California, it is possible for a former military medic who has at least one year of bedside patient care experience to challenge the LVN boards. The board, on its website, uses the following language described as “Method #4” at their website, located here. Here is the text:

“This method requires no less than 12 months of active duty bedside patient care on a hospital ward, completion of the basic course of instruction in nursing while in the armed forces and proof that service has been honorable.”

Now, my course was not in nursing, but as a medical technician. This met the board’s requirement back in 2007.

***Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and do not give legal advice. You should consult an attorney or contact the state board of nursing for more specifics. 

How to do it

By accessing the detailed application form located here, you will find the following steps are needed in addition to the regular application:

1. Copies of military service evaluations showing the dates of service, wards assigned and duties performed for each assignment. You must demonstrate that you rendered at least twelve (12) months of active duty bedside patient care.

2. Transcripts or “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty” (DD214) showing completion of basic course of instruction in nursing required by his or her particular branch of the Armed Forces.

3. DD214 or other military document showing that service in the Armed Forces has been under honorable conditions, or whose general discharge has been under honorable conditions.

The process to get your application processed can take a few months, but once you get your authorization to test (ATT) in the mail, you can schedule your NCLEX-PN exam (which is the same exam as all of the graduates of LVN/LPN programs). You can take the exam anywhere at a Pearson Vue testing center, but your license will be from California.

Can I then endorse my license to other states?

Absolutely. I endorsed my LVN license to Michigan, where I became an LPN and worked two full time jobs while I lived there. Each state has its own requirements for endorsement, so you should contact your respective state board of nursing for details.


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