10 Things Travel Nurses Should Know About the Nurse Licensure Compact

nurse licensure compact travel nurseEnhanced NLC ushers in new provisions and an updated list of compact nursing states

By Doug Bennett, contributor

Busy nurses are always keen to eliminate red tape, simplify processes and conserve precious time—whether during their shift, or when applying to work across state lines.  

Luckily, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is a great mechanism for streamlining your eligibility for a variety of travel nursing opportunities in compact nursing states.

The original Nurse Licensure Compact, sponsored by National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), offers multistate licensure for eligible nurses to practice in any of the original 25 participating nursing compact states, without having to apply for additional licensure. 

The compact’s mission is to “advance public protection and access to care through the mutual recognition of one state-based license that is enforced locally and recognized nationally.”

But the original NLC is being replaced by the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, or eNLC, which has its own growing list of compact nursing states.  

Enhancements to Compact Nursing Licensure

The enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, originally approved by state boards of nursing in 2015, is a new, revised licensure model that adds extra protections and replaces the original NLC.  

This new version of the compact was officially enacted on July 20, 2017, when North Carolina became the 26th state to sign legislation to implement the eNLC. Several other states are in the process of getting on board, as well.

To help you better understand the compact and the changes it is currently undergoing, Onward Healthcare has compiled a list of the top 10 things travel nurses should know about multistate licensure and the nursing compact states.

Top 10 Facts about the Nurse Licensure Compact and the New eNLC:

1. Nurses must legally reside in a designated nursing compact state and meet that state’s licensure requirements. In other words, your primary state of residence or home state—where you file your tax return—must be one of the compact nursing states.

2. RNs and LPNs/LVNs holding an active nursing license in good standing with the Board of Nursing (BON) are covered by the Nurse Licensure Compact; advanced practice nurses are covered by a different (APRN) compact.

3. The Nurse Licensure Compact enables nurses to fill travel nursing positions in other nursing compact states without the need to obtain additional licenses.

4. Travel nurses with compact nursing licenses must still obtain new state licenses to qualify for jobs in non-compact states.  (Travelers who reside in non-compact states must obtain a new license in every state where they choose to work.) 

5. Upon receiving your multi-state nursing license, your work history, specialty and other pertinent information will be stored in a shared database accessible by all the nursing compact states.

6. All states—even those already participating in the existing Nurse Licensure Compact—must enact new legislation to be included in the enhanced NLC.

7. Under the new provisions of the enhanced NLC, all compact nursing states must conduct federal criminal background checks to determine a nurse’s eligibility for a multistate license.

8. The enhanced NLC license allows nurses to provide patients nursing services in any of the compact states, either physically or virtually, e.g., using the latest tools and technologies, such as via telenursing.

9. Official implementation of the eNLC will go into effect Friday, January 19, 2018.

10. Nurses with original compact nursing licenses are grandfathered into the eNLC, and all current multistate licenses will remain valid while states make a determination whether to move forward with the eNLC legislation.* However, new applicants residing in compact nursing states will need to meet 11 uniform licensure requirements. Nurses who do not meet the new licensure requirements may still be eligible for a single state license. 

Current List of eNLC Nursing Compact States

The following 27 states have adopted the new eNLC legislation:

Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee,  Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

More details about the NLC and the enhanced NLC can be found on the NCSBN site.

* The original NLC will remain in effect with Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island  as members until each enacts eNLC legislation, according to the NCSBN, as of July 20, 2017.

WANT TO EXPLORE new states as a travel nurse—while we pay for your housing and travel expenses? 

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