Korean J Adult Nurs.  2013 Dec;25(6):622-632.

A Comparative Study of the Nurse Licensure Exam Systems between the United States and South Korea

  • 1College of Nursing, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea. chanyeong@hallym.ac.kr
  • 2College of Nursing, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


This study was conducted to compare the nurse licensure examination system in Korea with that of the United States (US).
Focus interviews with the administrative staff of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) were held. two areas were explored in the interviews: the item development process and the general administrative operating procedures.
NCLEX-RN items are designed for entry-level practice. The items are subjected to a series of 12 steps including a item writing panel, a content and editorial review, a sensitivity panel, a pre-test, a Differential item functioning panel and a committee review. NCSBN is responsible for the test for registered nurses and one for practical nurses. In contrast the Korean National Health Personnel Licensing Board (KNHPLB) is responsible for nursing is and 21 other health related licensure. Another difference is that in Korea there is no consistent and specialized staff to develop question items. Items are developed by educators who are not active nurses (this last statemtne is not a finding but a point of view usually not given in findings.).
Korean nurses form the largest group of health related job categories and the most direct to health care consumers. Therefore, the nursing licensure exam should be acknowledged as the most influential licensure exam in health care services. We recommend a nursing specialized licensing institution to be established with active nurse'participation in item development process to reflect clinical practice into licensure exam.

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