DEA and DPS: Prescribing as a Nurse Practitioner in Texas

Leave it to Texas to do things differently. Nurse practitioners practicing in Texas will find themselves jumping through a few extra hoops when it comes to getting permission to prescribe controlled substances. The process can be long and confusing. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering practicing as a nurse practitioner in Texas.

If you’re looking to work as a nurse pratitioner in Texas, the first step to formalizing your status is to apply for a license to practice as an advanced practice nurse from the Texas Board of Nursing. The licensing process for nurse practitioners in Texas is notoriously long so begin as soon as possible. When, and only when, the licensing process has been completed can you begin the process of applying for permission to prescribe controlled substances in the Lone Star State.

Once you have your Texas license in hand, you’re ready to begin the process of obtaining prescriptive authority. To prescribe controlled substances in Texas, you need to get three documents in place in the following order:

  1. An agreement with a collaborating physician
  2. A Controlled Substances Registration with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  3. A DEA number obtained through the Drug Enforcement Administration

Let’s look at these three steps individually.

Collaborating Physician Agreement

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Nurse practitioners practicing in Texas are only allowed to prescribe controlled substances only if working in collaboration with a physician. This arrangement must be outlined in a formal document signed by both the NP and the MD. The collaborative practice agreement should specifically outline the nurse practitioner’s ability to prescribe controlled substances.

Texas Controlled Substances Registration

With a collaborative practice agreement in place, you are now ready to apply for permission to prescribe controlled substances with the state. To do so, complete the Controlled Substances Registration form for mid-level practitioners with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The application fee is $25 and the registration must be renewed annually. You will need the name and address of the location where you plan to practice as well as the signature of your supervising physician. Your registration will be processed within 60 days, but many nurse practitioners receive their DPS number back much sooner.

Obtaining a DEA Number

Unlike the state-specific DPS Controlled Substances Registration, DEA registration is a federally mandated application process for prescribing controlled substances. Obtaining a DEA number is relatively simple and can be done online. Make sure to fill the application out carefully to avoid any delays in processing your application-you’re almost there!

Locking in your first nurse practitioner position in Texas can be difficult. Due to the long licensing process as well as the steps required to obtain prescriptive authority, some employers looking to fill NP positions require that applicants already have active DPS and DEA numbers. To further complicate the NP job search, these registration processes cannot be completed without an overseeing physician, so you will need a job before you being applying for the ability to prescribe controlled substances. Completing the steps to prescribing as a nurse practitioner in the most timely and complete manner possible will help avoid delays in your job search and onboarding process.


Are you looking for a nurse practitioner position in Texas? ThriveAP Career Advisors can help! Let us know how we can reach out to you and we’ll be in touch.


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