The authority for the registered nurse to practice professional nursing derives from a social contract delineating the nurse’s rights and responsibilities for remaining accountable to the public. The registered nurse is expected to practice within a professional framework defined by various documented rules, regulations and standards. Nursing practice is governed by law and entrance into the profession is regulated at both the national and state levels. The Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice established by the American Nurses Association provides the foundation for nursing practice. Further practice obligations occur because of the registered nurse’s accountability to the specific organization or institution where the nurse is employed, i.e. via organizational policies and procedures. Additionally, registered nurses are expected to continue to enhance their knowledge and skill and demonstrate continued competency throughout their career.

Continuing Competency

Final rules for Continuing Competency went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. Registered nurses and licensed practical nurses will be required to begin maintaining documentation/verification of compliance illustrating at least 531 hours of active practice and 45 hours of continuing education every three years. The three year period begins with the nurse’s 2011 birthday date. Audits for compliance will begin in 2014. Licensure renewals will continue to be on an annual basis; however, nurses will be expected to sign an attestation every three years to reflect that they are compliant with the requirements for both practice and continuing education hours. For additional information, go to the Continuing Competency page.

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Liability insurance

All practicing registered nurses should carry their own professional liability insurance and WSNA has selected Nurses Service Organization (NSO) as the program best suited for its members. This plan is designed to meet the unique needs of today’s nursing professionals and students of nursing as well as Home Health Care & Staffing Agencies.

Nurse delegation

The Nurse Delegation Program, under Washington state law, allows nursing assistants working in certain settings to perform certain tasks—such as administration of prescription medications or blood glucose testing—normally performed only by licensed nurses. A registered nurse must teach and supervise the nursing assistant, as well as provide nursing assessments of the patient's condition. For further information go to or contact the Nurse Delegation Program Manager at 360-651-6828.