Imagine having the ability to travel all throughout this beautiful country while simultaneously practicing your craft of nursing, impacting patient care, and making a difference during a global pandemic.
Well, it isn’t a dream. More than 30 states now participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows nurses multistate privileges. The program is coordinated by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and continues to expand as more states implement the compact legislation.
According to the NLC Commission, compact nursing licenses increase access to care while maintaining public protection at the state level. Under the NLC, nurses can practice in other compact states, without having to obtain additional licenses. As of April 15, 2021, there are 34 states and the territory of Guam that participate in the compact; New Jersey and Guam are not currently issuing multi-state licenses, but allow those with compact licenses to practice in their jurisdiction.
While the COVID-19 pandemic emergency declaration has caused many states to temporarily allow nurses to work across state lines without getting additional licenses, the NLC program is designed to offer a permanent solution.
The NLC has been around since 2000, and an enhanced version of the compact (eNLC) was enacted in 2018 to streamline the process for nurses and require universal standards and regulations for licensure which the originally compact license was lacking.
Take your nursing license on the road with a travel nursing assignment.
Obtaining a compact nursing license: A step-by-step process
1. Declare a compact state as your primary state of residence (PSOR) – In order to be eligible to obtain a compact nursing license, you must be able to declare a member state as your home state. PSORs are not tied to property ownership, but rather to other things such as a driver’s license, voter’s card, federal income tax return, military form no. 2058, or W2 form from that state.
2. Meet the Uniform Licensure Requirements (ULRs) – Once you declare your primary state of residence and have an active, unrestricted nursing license in that state, you must confirm you meet the NLC’s Uniform Licensure Requirements or ULRs.
“ULRs are the essential prerequisites for initial, endorsement, renewal and reinstatement licensure needed across every NCSBN jurisdiction to ensure the safe and competent practice of nursing. ULRs protect the public by setting consistent standards and promoting a health care system that is fluid and accessible by removing barriers to care and maximizing portability for nurses,” according to the NLC.
3. Confirm the status of your license. If you already hold an active nursing license and your PSOR is a compact member state, your license may already be a multistate license. If you are unsure of your status, you can check it for free on Nursys.com using the Quick Confirm tool. If you do not have a multistate license and you need to change your single-state license to a multistate, contact your state’s board of nursing (BON), which may require proof of residence. If you are applying for a license for the first time, the process will be the same if you have already declared your PSOR.
How compact nursing licenses facilitate telehealth and travel nursing
Compact nursing licenses remove barriers to care and significantly streamline the licensure process while reducing costs and the overall burden of obtaining individual state licenses.
In addition to facilitating in-person care in more locations, the NLC also has a telehealth component. Nurses in compact states who hold multistate licenses are able to practice via telenursing in all nursing compact states. This means you can live in a compact state and provide care from the comfort of your home, or from one facility in a multistate health system to another.
Nurses with multistate licenses who want to work travel nursing assignments will also find the NLC can significantly streamline their ability to accept these jobs in other compact nursing states.