Can A Registered Nurse Prescribe Medications In California?

The state of California has a diverse population and economy, which means that many types of nurses practice in the Golden State. There are over 80 different types of Registered Nurses (RNs) working in California today. 

However, many Registered Nurses can prescribe medications if they choose to do so, and this article will tell you if a Registered Nurse can prescribe medications in California.

Can A Registered Nurse Prescribe Medications In California?

Yes, as long as they are licensed to prescribe medications in California. RNs can prescribe medications in California if they have a license to prescribe medications and meet the requirements of the law. 

What Are California’s Nurse Practitioner Supervision Laws?

A physician or physician assistant must supervise nurse practitioners in California. In addition to having a minimum of two years of experience under the supervision of a registered nurse, they must also complete additional education and training to become an independent practitioner.

The California State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would let nurse practitioners practice independently by allowing them to prescribe medication without the presence of a healthcare provider present during each visit with patients.

In order for this bill (SB 323) to pass before adjournment on June 30th, 2019, it requires unanimous support from both houses of California’s legislature.

However, there are concerns about its legality due largely because it conflicts with current law, which requires all nurses who intend to prescribe medication must first obtain approval from their employer.

What Are California’s Nurse Practitioner Prescribing Laws?

California is among the few states that allow nurse practitioners to prescribe medications. Nurse practitioners are legally registered nurses who have finished an accredited program and have additional training in clinical areas like pediatrics, geriatrics, or obstetrics/gynecology.

Nurse practitioners can use their education and experience to provide care for patients in many different areas of medicine, including general internal medicine, emergency medicine, or pediatrics.

In California, NPs must meet certain requirements before prescribing medications.

How To Become A Registered Nurse That Can Prescribe Medications In California?

To become a nurse who can prescribe medications in California, you must meet some requirements. Once you have completed all of these steps, you will be ready to begin practicing as a specialty nurse. Here are the steps to becoming a Registered Nurse that can prescribe medications in California:

1. Apply For APRN Licensure And A Furnishing License

You must be a licensed registered nurse (RN) to apply for an APRN license. The state of California requires that you be in good standing with your nursing authority before applying for an APRN license.

This can mean having paid any outstanding dues or fines, as well as fulfilling any requirements that may be associated with your job status.

If you have been licensed as a Registered Nurse but haven’t yet received your furnishing license, many things could cause this:

  • You might have applied under another name or last name than the one on file at the time of application and were unable to obtain confirmation from your employer’s HR department before submitting paperwork;
  • Your employer may not have provided enough information about their policies regarding employee documentation when filling out forms asking about names/degrees/etc., so it’s possible nothing was filled out correctly;
  • If something has gone wrong during processing (such as receiving emails telling us our application has been denied), please contact us directly via email so we can investigate further.

2. Get A DEA Number

To be able to prescribe medications, you’ll need a DEA number. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) oversees the registration process for nurses and other healthcare professionals who want to prescribe controlled substances.

To get your DEA number:

  • Visit the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) website at and tap on “Search” in the top menu bar at the left of the screen; then select your state from the drop-down menu on the right side of the webpage; click “Begin Search.”
  • Enter all information requested by NPDB’s system, such as name/title & address/zip code & phone number(s). If applying online through NPDB’s website, please make sure that all required fields have been completed before submitting the request, or else it will not be processed properly by the system.

3. Complete An Approved Continuing Education Prescribing Course 

You should also be aware of the requirements for completing an approved continuing education prescriptive course. These courses provide continuing education credits and may help you maintain your license by allowing you to practice safely, but they do not increase your authority as a prescriber.

You can find approved continuing education courses through various organizations, such as the California Board of Registered Nursing or state medical societies, which offer discounted rates if you register in advance. The cost will vary depending on how long each course lasts, but most run between $50-$100 per hour of instruction time or more.

4. Apply For A Schedule II Furnishing License

To apply for a Schedule II Furnishing License, you must first apply for an approved course on prescribing. You can find this information at You will also need to get your DEA number and your APRN license before applying for the furnishing license.

What Are Other Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice Laws?

Nurse Practitioners can do many things, including:

  • Diagnose and treat medical conditions.
  • Write prescriptions.
  • Perform physical exams.
  • Order and interpret lab tests. In some states, Nurse Practitioners can also order imaging studies such as x-rays or ultrasounds. They may also refer patients to other medical professionals if needed.

What Types Of Medications Can A Nurse Practitioner Prescribe?

A nurse practitioner can prescribe a wide variety of medications, and they can prescribe to all age groups, including children and adults. Nurse practitioners also have the ability to prescribe medications for acute and chronic conditions, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. The most common types of medication that a nurse practitioner will be able to write prescriptions for include:

  • Painkillers – These are used to treat pain in the body caused by injury or disease; they include ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin.
  • Antidepressants – These work by changing chemical signals within the brain that contribute to depression symptoms like sadness or hopelessness; they include Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline).
  • Antihistamines – These are used to treat allergies and colds by blocking the effects of histamine. They include Benadryl (diphenhydramine).

Which Drugs Can A Nurse Practitioner Prescribe?

A nurse practitioner can prescribe medications to treat a wide range of health conditions. Nurse practitioners are licensed to do this under their scope of practice, meaning they have been trained and certified in the areas of nursing and medicine.

They may also be able to administer medications during clinical visits or office hours if needed.

A nurse practitioner’s scope of practice allows them to prescribe drugs for the treatment of acute and chronic diseases, as well as for the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma.

This is because they have been trained through continuing education courses at accredited institutions throughout California that provide up-to-date information on current drug therapies available within their field. It also includes being able to determine whether a patient needs additional support after treatment has begun, such as counseling services.

Can A Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Narcotics?

Nurse practitioners can prescribe narcotics if they have a DEA number and a Schedule II Furnishing License.

Nurse practitioners can prescribe controlled substances but cannot prescribe Schedule I drugs. They also cannot prescribe any other medications that are not controlled substances.

Types of Nurses in California

Registered nurses (RNs) are California’s most common type of nurse. They have a bachelor’s degree and complete an accredited nursing program with at least one year of clinical experience before they can become licensed. RNs can prescribe medications, but it is not their primary duty as a nurse to do so.

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are also trained to administer medication but don’t have the same educational level as a Registeres Nurse. In some cases, LPNs may give you an idea about prescription drugs and how they interact with your body but never without consulting with your doctor first.

Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are similar to LPNs except that LVNs typically specialize in certain areas like home health care or hospice care; therefore, their training is more specific than what’s offered by other types of nurses mentioned above. 


1. Who Can Prescribe Medications In California?

Only licensed medical professionals can give a prescription under California law. However, there are small exceptions for board-registered graduates who are in approved programs, even if they are still unlicensed in California.

2. Can RNs Write A Prescription?

Registered nurses (RNs) don’t have the authority to write prescriptions, and neither do license practical nurses (LPNs).

3. Can A Nurse Practitioner Prescribe Medication Without A Doctor In California?

Nurse Practitioners can prescribe, diagnose, and treat patients without physician oversight. Nurse practitioners who operate in full-practice states can establish and operate their own practices in the same way physicians do.

4. What Kind Of Nurse Can Write Prescriptions?

APRNs provide patient assessments, diagnose diseases and conditions, order tests, prescribe medications, and direct patient care. Some states allow APRNs to dispense medications under certain conditions and others permit APRNs to provide drug samples to patients.

5. Can A Doctor Prescribe Themselves Medication In California?

Prescribing any scheduled medication for yourself is prohibited, and prescribing for immediate family members is reserved for situations involving minor, self-limited illnesses or emergencies.

6. Who Can Write An Authority Prescription?

PBS prescribers

7. Who Holds Responsibility For Prescribing Medication?

The Regulation restricts prescribing specific medications to certain authorized prescribers and/or under the Authority of the NSW Health Secretary. 

8. What Is The Difference Between An RN And A Certified RN?

A certified nurse (CN) provides general patient care and works under registered nurses, while a registered nurse offers a higher level of patient care and coordination and works under a doctor.

9. What Can A Doctor Do That A Nurse Practitioner Cannot?

The difference between physicians and Nurse practitioners is that all doctors can prescribe medication to ill patients as a part of their duties.

10. What Are The Only 2 Professions That Are Allowed To Write A Prescription?

MD and DO clinicians can prescribe medications, including controlled substances. 


We hope you can now tell if a Registered Nurse can prescribe medications in California or not. Feel free to share this information with loved ones.

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