For travel nurses, the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. If you live in a compact state, you have your choice of 39 states that you can work in without the stress of getting additional nursing licenses for each one.
This ultimate guide will review what a compact nursing state is and how it benefits both nurses and the healthcare system. Next, we will discuss the difference between a single-state nursing license and a compact-state nursing license, along with the requirements to obtain a compact license. Finally, we will list each state along with its compact status. Let’s get started!
What are Compact Nursing States?
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) is the authorized accrediting body for everyone’s favorite exam — the NCLEX. Every state board is a part of this national council along with other regulatory bodies. The NCSBN strives to maintain consistent licensure standards and is one of the critical resources for states looking to enact nursing licensure compacts.
Compact nursing states are those that have implemented legislation to become part of the eNLC. These states have adopted several uniform licensure requirements that ensure nursing licensure consistency across state borders.
A compact license allows nurses freedom to practice without the headaches of paying for and maintaining individual licenses. It also gives healthcare employers flexibility to hire the best nurses regardless of state licensure.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Nurse in a Compact State?
There are several benefits to being a registered nurse in a compact nursing state. With a multi-state license, you can work in any of the other compact states without maintaining individual licenses. We have travel nursing jobs available in both compact and non compact states. Partner with us to to enable rapid speed to top offers.
- Opportunities for career advancement are not dependent on state borders.
- Nurses that live near state borders have more job opportunities close to home.
- For travel nurses, you can practice in any of the 39 compact states.
Why are Nursing Compact States Important?
Nursing compact states are important for both nurses and healthcare as a whole across the country.
- Nurses can take positions in the 39 states that have enacted the eNLC.
- Healthcare systems can quickly orient nurses from multiple states without waiting for the approval of single-state licenses.
- As telehealth options grow, nurses with multi-state licenses can provide care in any compact state from the comfort of home.
- When disasters strike, nurses with a compact license can respond quickly to provide care where it is needed most.
What Do Nursing Compact States Mean For Nurses?
The benefits of holding a multi-state license far outweigh the downsides. There are just a couple of things to consider.
- State boards of nursing all have differences in regulations and standards. If anything happens, you will be held to the regulations for the state you are working in, not your primary state.
- The requirements for multi-state license eligibility are typically more involved than those for a single-state license. We will dive into those next.
Requirements for Nursing Compact eNLC States
In order for state legislatures to enact the eNLC, several essential requirements must be in place. The NCSBN website or your state board of nursing website are great resources to find these requirements.
First, it’s essential to understand that nurses living in compact states can choose between holding a single-state or multi-state license. Living in a compact state does not automatically grant you a compact nursing license. The requirements for a multi-state license are typically stricter than a single-state license and are uniform across the country based on NCSBN standards.
To determine compact license eligibility, you must do the following:
- Maintain your primary state of residence (PSOR) in a compact nursing state
- Meet all requirements for your home state license
- Graduate from a board-approved education program
- Students from international education programs may also apply with approval
- Pass an English Proficiency exam (if English is non-native or your program was taught in another language)
- Pass the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN
- Agree to a criminal background check and submit fingerprints
- Have no history of felony offenses
- Have no history of misdemeanors related to nursing
- Not be a part of any similar alternative program
- Have a valid United States Social Security number
- Note — An individual credentials review agency may undertake case-by-case exceptions.
Which States are Compact Nursing States (eNLC Members)?
Currently, 39 states have fully implemented the enhanced nursing licensure compact. If you live in one of the following states, it is considered your primary state. Once you qualify for and obtain a compact license, you may practice in any of the other nursing compact states! We will submit you quickly to top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.
Here are the eNLC states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What States and Territories Have Partially Implemented the eNCL?
Pennsylvania: Legislation has passed, but the state is still awaiting implementation with no determined start date.
Ohio: Legislation has passed. Ohio is awaiting implementation with a scheduled start date of 01/01/2023
US Virgin Islands: Legislation has passed, but the state is still awaiting implementation with no determined start date.
Guam: Guam is interesting. For now, nurses with a multi-state license from any other compact state may practice in Guam. However, Guam residents are not able to obtain multi-state licenses yet. The remainder of this legislation is awaiting implementation.
States with Pending Legislation for the eNLC
Alaska: Alaska has introduced bills to its House of Representatives and Senate for the state to adopt the NLC. These bills have been sent to committee, but neither has been scheduled for a public hearing yet. There is hope that Alaska could become a compact state soon and open its doors to travel nurses who want to travel to the farthest and wildest corners of the U.S.
Illinois: Illinois has been working on implementing NLC legislation for almost a decade. The latest legislation drafted to adopt the NLC, introduced in January 2017, ended with a Session Sine Die in January 2019. This legislation could mean that the bill will not move forward, making it unlikely that Illinois will become a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Four new bills for the NLC have been introduced this year, but there is a short window of time to get them passed.
Michigan: Michigan’s NLC legislation has moved out of committee and into the House Ways and Means Committee and, with favorable review, will then head to the floor of Michigan’s House of Representatives. Since most of these bills don’t get out of their initial committee hearings, the likelihood of Michigan becoming a part of the NLC seems to be quite high! Check back later in the year to find out how the bill is doing and if the Michigan legislature will vote on it.
Minnesota: Legislation pending.
New York: Legislation pending.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island is another interesting case. The state was a part of the original NLC, but when the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact was introduced, Rhode Island did not join. This meant that nurses whose Rhode Island licenses previously allowed them to practice in every other compact state were suddenly required to acquire a new nursing license for states they wanted to travel to and practice in. It’s unclear whether Rhode Island will rejoin the other 39 states that make up the new eNLC.
States without Legislation for the eNLC
According to NCSBN, the following states do not have any current action pending in their legislatures to join the eNLC.
- District of Columbia
With all of this information, it is easy to see why the enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact is good for nurses and the whole healthcare system. Compact states increase access to care for citizens across the country in many ways. The NCSBN protects the public by ensuring that nurses with multi-state licenses meet uniform licensure requirements. Get submitted quicker to travel nurse jobs in any state when you travel with us.
As we have discussed, there are many benefits for the nurses that live in states that have adopted the nursing licensure compact. Whether a nurse travels by choice, provides telehealth services, or responds to a crisis, a nurse compact license allows for quick response and onboarding. Nurses have access to more career opportunities and development when the hassle of maintaining individual single-state licenses is eliminated. The eNLC is great for everyone involved!
If you want to learn more, visit your state board of nursing website or NCSBN for up-to-date information regarding your state’s compact status.