12 NEXT Steps To Take After You Passed NCLEX-RN

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Finding out you passed NCLEX is one of the most exciting things to happen after you graduate nursing school. After spending the last few years in school, you may be wondering, "What next after passing the NCLEX-RN?" If that sounds like you, this article is for you. While everyone approaches life differently, I'm going to share 12 next steps after you passed NCLEX-RN you, or anyone else can follow to get started in the right direction to begin your nursing career.

How Do You Know If You Passed The NCLEX-RN?

The only way to know with 100% certainty that you passed NCLEX-RN is to wait for official results from your state Board of Nursing. However, you can get unofficial results by logging into your Pearson VUE account and accessing the Quick Results Service. This option costs $7.95 and, although it is an unofficial result, it is believed to be accurate.


How Long Does It Take to Know If You Passed The NCLEX-RN?

It can take up to six weeks to receive official NCLEX-RN results. Some candidates use the Pearson Vue NCLEX Trick, while others access the NCLEX Quick Results Service to get unofficial results. The Pearson Vue NCLEX Trick can work in as few as two hours after testing. The Quick Results Service is available two days after testing in states where the service is offered. Neither the Pearson Vue Trick nor Quick Results Service results should be used to practice as a licensed nurse. Only official NCLEX-RN results from your state Board of Nursing authorize you to work as a nurse.

Does It Matter Whether You Pass NCLEX-RN On First Attempt OR On A Retake?

Naturally, every nursing school graduate wants to learn they passed NCLEX-RN, but does it matter if you pass on your first attempt or a retake? Yes, it matters, and no, it does not. Passing the NCLEX-RN on your first attempt means you can become licensed and begin working as a nurse. If you take the NCLEX and learn you passed, you have peace of mind knowing you have accomplished a significant step in your career. You can rest easy without worrying about studying for the exam.

However, if you are unsuccessful on your first attempt, you can retest. While you may feel disappointed, keep in mind there are several reasons why NCLEX candidates may fail on their first attempt. For some people, not passing the NCLEX has nothing to do lack of knowledge. Illness, fatigue, or test anxiety all contribute to poor test performance and should be recognized for what they are so you can address the problem and do better the next time.


The whole time you are in nursing school, you look forward to graduating and becoming a licensed nurse. After NCLEX, what next? Here are twelve things you can do after passing the NCLEX-RN.

1. Take a day or two to relax and recharge your body and mind.

You have spent a great deal of time studying and working to achieve the goal of becoming a registered nurse. After passing NCLEX-RN, you deserve a break. That is not to say you should take months off work or go on a cross-country trip. You can take a few days to unwind and let your body and mind rest. Sleep late, stay in your pajamas all weekend, eat the chocolate cake, or take a bubble bath. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, do it!

2. Think about the setting or care environment where you would like to work.

One of the great things about nursing is there is a wide range of environments to find a job. A few options include hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Some nurses prefer primary care, while others like acute or critical care.

3. Consider a specialty. Not all registered nurses choose a specialty.

However, if you have a preference to work with a particular patient population or in a specific environment, you could choose to earn a specialty certification in that area. It is often easier for new nursing graduates to find their place in specialties like Med-Surg, but that does not mean you will not be able to work in another specialty. Keep in mind, if you do not get to start in the specialty that interests you most, it isn't the end of the world. Get some experience and try again.

4. Consider getting involved in a Nurse Residency Program.

After you graduate and find out you passed NCLEX-RN, you are free to begin work as a registered nurse. While you can apply for jobs and go to work without any other training, some new nurses enjoy the benefits of a Nurse Residency Program. These programs are a formalized entry into nursing practice that includes hands-on and classroom learning based on professional and clinical topics. Nurse Residency Programs are usually offered by hospitals systems or larger healthcare organizations. They can last from a few months to a year. Again, a Nurse Residency Program is not required, but it is an excellent way to get additional training and experience while earning an income.

5. Find a mentor and ask to shadow them.

Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities offer newly licensed nurses the opportunity to shadow experienced nurses while preparing to work independently. If you are job-seeking and have not found the perfect place yet, you could benefit from a mentorship, even if it is short-term.

6. Update your resume. Anyone can fill out an application and submit it.

Taking the time to prepare a professional resume allows you to include information about yourself and your experience a generic application may not request. Be sure your contact information, including your email and phone number, is correct. Include any certifications you earned while in school, including IV Therapy Certification and CPR.

7. Request letters of professional recommendation.

Although job applications have a place to list work experience and personal references, you should go a step further by getting professional letters of recommendation. If you have work experience in any healthcare setting, ask your previous supervisor to write a letter for you. Nursing instructors are also good sources for letters.

Those who prepare letters for you should be able to speak to the likelihood of your success as a nurse. Be sure the person's contact information and credentials are included in the letter. You can ask for general letters of recommendation which speak to your skills, personality, and anything else the writer feels is pertinent to your professional success.

Targeted or specific letters of recommendation are letters that are written with a targeted employer in mind. For instance, if you want to apply to work in a hospital's labor and delivery unit, the nursing instructor who taught you OB could write a letter that details your clinical experiences in labor and delivery.

8. Get copies of your nursing transcript.

Not all employers ask for your school transcript. Then again, some do. Like letters of recommendation, it is always best to have your transcript on hand if you are asked for it instead of making a prospective employer wait for you to get a copy and return it to them. Being prepared with documents ahead of time shows you can take the initiative to get things done without being asked, which is a good characteristic of any nurse.

9. Network with other nurses.

One of the best ways to get exposure as a new nurse is to network with other nurses. If you have a social media account, look for the social media pages for local nurse organizations and healthcare facilities. Like and follow those pages. Many of them have member questionnaires you can fill out to let others know more about you. Networking with other nurses after passing NCLEX-RN can help you get recognized and may make job-seeking easier.

10. Utilize the network you developed in nursing school.

In addition to joining local nursing organizations and networking with other nurses, take advantage of the contacts you made while still a nursing student. Talk to directors of nursing or hiring managers at some of your previous clinical sites and find out if they are hiring. Facilities that accept nursing students for clinicals get an up-close look at future nursing candidates, and there is a good chance you may have already been recognized as a potential employee. You won't know for sure until you ask.

11. Start applying for jobs.

If you have taken and passed the NCLEX-RN, start applying for jobs. Many healthcare facilities will post entry-level nursing positions while others simply have openings for registered nurses. When you apply, verify the requirements candidates must meet. If you are interested in a position not listed as an entry-level position, you can still apply. Always follow up your application with a phone call to the Human Resources department to verify if the job is still available and ask for an interview. Lack of work experience does not automatically disqualify new nurses from a position, but you will not know unless you ask.

12. Never stop learning!

The healthcare industry is constantly changing and evolving. Successful nurses acknowledge the need for continued education and take the initiative to learn new tasks and methods of practice. Whether you decide to pursue a higher degree or want to be the best nurse you can be in the position where you are employed, there is always something new to learn in nursing.

5 Things You Must Avoid Doing After Passing The NCLEX-RN

Once you find out you have passed NCLEX-RN, you will naturally feel a sense of relief. You have read twelve steps to follow after you pass the NCLEX, but what about the things you should avoid? Here are the top five things you must avoid after you pass the NCLEX.

1. Talking negatively about your nursing school or instructors:

You may feel you had the worst instructors and hope no one else enrolls in your school. Please keep it to yourself. Prospective employers seem to have an uncanny ability to find out when potential employees talk badly about others. They naturally assume when you speak negatively about your school, you will probably do the same about their facility if you become unhappy. The success of healthcare facilities depends on a good reputation of high-quality care, and employers will not risk hiring someone who could be a liability to their reputation.

2. Assuming you know everything:

Sure, you passed the NCLEX, but a wise nurse knows there is always someone with more experience or education, and they learn from them. The most experienced nurses learn something every day.

3. Taking on too much:

New nurses are typically eager to get started and gain experience. While it is commendable, be cautious about taking on too much responsibility too soon after passing the NCLEX-RN. Keep in mind, you may be licensed, but you are new. Take your time to learn and develop skills. You can gradually take on more responsibility as you are ready.

4. Taking things too personally:

Working in any healthcare setting can be stressful at times. Nurses may have several patients who all require various treatments or special care. You may be assigned to work with someone who is simply having a bad day. Whatever is going on, at some point, there is a good chance you get offended by someone's behavior. Try not to take things personally. Keep the patient's needs and your responsibilities in mind and work through any issues you have without letting them affect your behavior and job performance.

5. Never act outside of your scope of practice.

After you pass the NCLEX-RN and become a licensed nurse, one of the quickest ways to lose your license is to act outside your scope of practice. Please familiarize yourself with your facility's policies and always work within them.

My Final Thoughts

After you graduate from nursing school, taking the NCLEX is your next step, but what next after passing the NCLEX-RN? In this article, I shared 12 next steps after you passed NCLEX-RN and things to avoid when you find out you have passed. Now that you know the next steps, you can move forward, pursue the job of your dreams, and build the nursing career you have worked so hard to achieve!


1. How Many Students Pass The NCLEX-RN On the First Attempt?

In 2020, 153,581 candidates passed the NCLEX-RN on their first attempt. This is an increase of more than 20,000 in 2016. The average number of successful NCLEX-RN candidates for the five years between 2016 and 2020 is 143,812.

YearTotal TakenTotal Passed

2. What Is NCLEX-RN First Time Pass Rate?

The NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate in 2020 was 86.57%, a slight decrease from the 88.18% who passed NCLEX-RN in 2019. The five-year average for NCLEX-RN candidates who passed on their first attempt is 86.94%.

YearTotal TakenPass %

3. Does Passing the NCLEX-RN Make Me an RN?

Passing the NCLEX-RN makes you a candidate for licensure. Candidates must submit documentation to their state Board of Nursing before testing, including fingerprints and a criminal background check. If you have met all your state's licensing requirements and passed NCLEX-RN, you will be approved for a nursing license and become a registered nurse.

4. How Long Does It Take After Passing NCLEX-RN to Receive My License Number?

The amount of time it takes after passing NCLEX-RN to receive your license number varies. While the NCSBN states it could take up to six weeks to find out if you passed or failed the NCLEX, most candidates know sooner. In most states, license numbers are generated within one to three days after successfully passing the NCLEX-RN. You can visit your state Board of Nursing's website and search your name to verify if a license number has been issued for you.

5. Can I Pass The NCLEX-RN And Be Denied the License?

Unfortunately, it is possible to pass the NCLEX-RN and be denied a license. The most common reason is a previous conviction of a crime or failure to report a conviction. Your state Board of Nursing determines if a license is denied on a case-by-case basis. It is important to understand that any conviction must be reported even if your record was expunged, or a certain amount of time has passed.

6. Can I Work Immediately After Passing The NCLEX-RN?

Once your NCLEX-RN scores are official and published by your state’s Board of Nursing, you can legally practice as a nurse in your state.

7. Do Employers Look at the NCLEX-RN Score?

Employers do not see your NCLEX-RN score. Instead, a prospective employer will request a copy of your nursing license and verify your license is unencumbered through the state Board of Nursing.

Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).