The National Council of State Boards of Nursing and Nurse Practice Acts

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, which is the core regulatory nursing body in the United States, is comprised of state boards of nursing. These boards have significant authority over the nursing practice as they issue regulations that affect nurses’ scope of practice and standards of conduct. Additionally, boards of nursing are involved in licensing and decision-making in cases of misconduct (Nettina, 2019).

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In most states, boards of nursing are comprised of registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, consumer representatives, and nursing educators (Nettina, 2019). Nurse practice acts are among the critical regulatory documents governing state nursing practice, as they stipulate various definitions, the composition of state boards of nursing, standards of nursing practice and its scope, types of titles and licenses, licensure requirements, and other essential rules affecting nursing practice (Russell, 2017).

A Code of conduct for nurses is defined as a document that stipulates standards of good practice, including behaviors, practices, values, principles, and relationships (Nettina, 2019). Professional misconduct occurs when a nurse breaches the code of conduct of their state intentionally or by omission. Professional misconduct is usually punished by disciplinary action, and nurses can have their license suspended or withdrawn entirely as a result of misconduct (Nettina, 2019).

In severe cases where misconduct resulted in significant harm to the patient, nurses can also face legal action from the patient or their representatives, resulting in a fine, imprisonment, or other consequences. To remain in good standing, nurses have to ensure that they practice in accordance with the code of conduct of their respective states. Various nursing organizations provide guidance to nurses who want to comply with regulations and practice ethically and legally. These include the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Society of Nurses in Advanced Practice, and the NCNA Council of Nurse Practitioners.


Nettina, S. M. (Ed.). Lippincott manual of nursing practice (11th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

Russell, K. A. (2017). Nurse practice acts guide and govern: Update 2017. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 8(3), 18-25.

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