Due to the nature of their careers, travel nurses often practice nursing across several state borders. Before, nurses were required to apply for multiple state nursing licenses. However, this has changed in recent years with the Nursing Licensure Compact agreement. Whether you’re a new or seasoned travel nurse, it’s beneficial to understand the agreement and how it impacts you. In this blog, we review the participating compact states, qualifications, and benefits of holding a compact nursing license.
NURSING COMPACT LICENSE: WHAT IS IT?
The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), was originally created to provide nurses with the ability to practice in multiple states. It is an agreement between states that allows nurses with one state license to practice in other states that are part of the agreement. It prevents nurses from having to get multiple state licenses issued. Travel nurses and nurses who provide telemedicine and e-medicine services all benefited from the original NLC, now having the ability to practice across 39 different state borders without applying for a new license in each state.
Recently, the NLC was revised and the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact eNLC was born (click here to learn more about the enhanced NLC, or eNLC). In order to obtain a compact multi-state license, the nurse’s primary residence must be in a compact state. To determine if you live in a compact state, check out the map below to view all current compact states.
Current Compact License States:
States with eNLC Enacted, Awaiting Implementation
Ohio (expected 1/1/2023)
Pennsylvania (initiated 2021, but still awaiting implementation)
States with Pending Legislation or partial implementation
Necessary Qualifications for a Compact Nursing License
To qualify for a multistate nursing license, you must have legal residency status in one of the compact states approved by the national council. If you already hold a state nursing license in your primary state, then you just need to apply for a compact license. Depending on the nursing regulatory body, this usually entails submitting a new multistate license application and additional background screening. Once you submit your application, approval time usually takes less than 30 days.
If you do not reside in one of the compact states, then you are not eligible to apply for a compact multistate license. As travel nurses can practice in either compact or non compact states, they typically have a multistate nursing license and multiple single state licenses. The single state licenses are required for states not part of the enhanced nursing licensure compact agreement.
Here are the complete requirements for acquiring a compact nursing license:
National Council of State Boards of Nursing Uniform Requirements for eNLC Licensure
- Meets the requirements for licensure in the home state (state of residency)
- Has graduated from a board-approved education program; or hHas graduated from an international education program (approved by the authorized accrediting body in the applicable country and verified by an independent credentials review agency)
- Has passed an English proficiency examination (applies to graduates of an international education program not taught in English or if English is not the individual’s native language)
- Has passed an NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN® Examination or predecessor exam
- Is eligible for or holds an active, unencumbered license (i.e., without active discipline)
- Has submitted to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks
- Has no state or federal felony convictions
- Has no misdemeanor convictions related to the practice of nursing (determined on a case-by-case basis)
- Is not currently a participant in an alternative program
- Is required to self-disclose current participation in an alternative program
- Has a valid United States Social Security number
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A COMPACT NURSING LICENSE?
One of the greatest draws of nursing is the stability of the profession; there will always be patients who need nurses. A compact nursing license provides the holder the ability to move to where the jobs are available with minimal hassle; they can start working and earning money nearly immediately.
Frequently, new nurses want to get a year or two of experience before they embark on the travel nursing journey. Holding a license in a compact state helps to facilitate this journey (assuming the desired destination is in another compact state, of course).
There are numerous other benefits to having a nurse licensure compact license:
- Flexibility for location and increased options for travel nursing assignments
- Allows nurses who practice telehealth to meet with patients across the U.S.
- Eliminates red tape that comes with becoming licensed in a new state
- Increases the number of nurses who can provide quality care to patients in many states
HOW DO I GET A COMPACT NURSING LICENSE?
To obtain a nursing compact multi-state registered nurse RN license, your primary state of legal residence must be in a compact state. If you are licensed & live in one of the states on the NLC map, congratulations! You already have a compact license and are eligible to work in any other compact state.
However, if you do not live in a compact state, you will have to either continue obtaining a new license in each state you want to work in as you go along, or you can move your primary residence to a compact state. If you are planning to move to a compact state, you should immediately start the process of applying for a license in the compact state. This will be a single-state license until you establish residency in the compact state.
HAVE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR NURSING LICENSE?
The NCSBN (nursing regulatory body) has a comprehensive FAQ on the NLC that answers many common questions nurses may have. If you have more questions about compact state nursing licenses, or simply want to learn more about travel nursing, reach out to us today.
FIND THE TRAVEL JOB THAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Search our job board for available travel nursing jobs throughout the country. If you’re interested in a position, just click the “contact me about this job” button and our trusty recruiters will reach out to answer any of your questions. You can also sign up for On Demand to view all the jobs Health Carousel Travel Nursing has available. Click here to learn more about this powerful web app that allows you to apply to jobs in minutes.