This post was originally published on Dec. 11, 2017. It has been updated (Jan. 23, 2018) to reflect the signing of Colorado SB 18-027 and New Mexico Senate Bill 1 into law, enacting Colorado and New Mexico as the newest eNLC member states.
Travel nurses are the superheroes of the healthcare industry—you venture across the country to care for patients in unfamiliar hospitals and often in under-served areas. There are definitely perks to this lifestyle—great pay, fantastic experiences, and amazing travel locales. Answering the call can be complicated at times due to licensing and paperwork. The original Nurse Licensure Compact, or NLC, revolutionized travel nursing for years. If you had a license in one NLC state, you could practice in any other NLC state (25 in all) with minimal red tape.
On Jan. 19, 2018, however, Enhanced NLC (commonly referred to as the eNLC) implementation changed where you can practice nursing with a multi-state compact license. Let’s break down the changes.
Understand the Original Nurse Licensure Compact
First, let’s understand how things stood prior to the eNLC. Implementation dates ranging from 1999 to 2015, 25 states were in the original Nurse Licensure Compact. This list included: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maine, and Maryland.
A successful passing and earning a license in one of the NLC states enabled nurses to practice in any of the other compact states without obtaining additional licensure. No additional paperwork needed. If you qualified for multi-state licensure, it was granted when his or her state license was granted. Licensure in an NLC member state allowed nurses to easily engage in travel nursing, telemedicine, and disaster response nursing.
The changes associated with the eNLC implementation on Jan. 19, 2018, has indeed affected where nurses with a new eNLC multi-state license can practice without obtaining additional licensure.
Eligibility Requirements for a Multi-State License in the eNLC
To be eligible for a multi-state license under the new Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, implemented Jan. 19, 2018, you must reside in a state that has enacted the eNLC. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Nurses must also meet the Uniform Licensure Requirements for a Multi-state License set forth by the NCSBN. In your state of residency, you must meet licensure eligibility requirements, as before. Other requirements for new nurses that have not changed include a nursing degree from a board-approved program, and you must have successfully passed the NCLEX-RN, NCLEX-PN, or other qualifying exam. International graduates must have earned their degree from an accredited program, have the school’s credentials reviewed by an independent review agency, and, if the program was not taught in English, an English proficiency exam. Current single-state license-holders must submit to fingerprint-based background checks at the state and federal level and be found to have no felony convictions. Their licenses must be active and unencumbered, which includes no nursing-related misdemeanors. In order to be eligible for a multi-state license, the nurse cannot be a participant in an alternative program; self-disclosure is required. All applicants, with and without current nursing licenses, must have a valid Social Security number.
Nurses who reside in former NLC states that are now eNLC states
If you held a multi-state license in a state that was a part of the original NLC, and that has already enacted the eNLC, no further action is required on your part to practice in eNLC member states—you will be grandfathered in. In order to practice in Rhode Island (the only former NLC state to not yet enact eNLC legislation), you will need to obtain a license by endorsement in that state.
Nurses and nursing students in eNLC states that were not NLC states
On Jan. 19, 2018, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming opened to nurses who hold multi-state licenses in eNLC member states. If you are a permanent resident of Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, or Wyoming, and you are not currently licensed as an RN, you will receive a multi-state license upon passing the NCLEX. Nurses who are already licensed in these states will not automatically receive multi-state licenses. You will need to request one. Check with your state Board of Nursing for this process and the associated fees, as they will vary by state.
Nurses who reside in Rhode Island
Rhode Island was a member of the original NLC, but has not enacted eNLC legislation (as of Jan. 23, 2018). Permanent residents of Rhode Island now need to obtain licensure by endorsement in any other state you practice outside of your primary residence.
Next Steps for Travel Nurses
Unsure of how eNLC implementation affects your travel nursing career? Visit your specific Board of Nursing website or speak to your recruiter for more information.