How Does the Compact Nursing License Work?


If you’re looking to become a travel nurse, chances are you want to take advantage of the travel aspect of the career by experiencing life in different places across the country. Yet, you are most likely only licensed as a registered nurse in one state. In order to travel, you need to get licensed in each state that you wish to practice in. Luckily, there’s something that allows you to get licensed in multiple states, and it is called a compact nursing license. The license is slowly being updated and enhanced over time, and more and more states are being included in this compact license. You may be wondering, how does the compact nursing license work and what do I do if I want to work in a state that isn’t part of the compact license deal? Don’t let this overwhelm you! Let’s break it down.

how does the compact nursing license work

States Included in the Compact Nursing License:

There are currently 26 states included in the compact nursing license, and this updated version of the license will go into effect in January 2018. The compact nursing license will allow qualified registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) to practice telemedicine or in-person care across lines of the following states:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. Delaware
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Idaho
  7. Iowa
  8. Kentucky
  9. Maine
  10. Maryland
  11. Mississippi
  12. Missouri
  13. Montana
  14. Nebraska
  15. New Hampshire
  16. North Carolina
  17. North Dakota
  18. Oklahoma
  19. South Carolina
  20. South Dakota
  21. Tennessee
  22. Texas
  23. Utah
  24. Virginia
  25. West Virginia
  26. Wyoming

States with Legislation Pending:

Some states have pending legislation and are on the waiting list to be added to the compact nursing license. Those states are:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Massachusetts

So, now you’re probably wondering, how do I know if I’m a qualified RN, LPN, or VN? First and foremost, you must currently reside in a compact license state in order to qualify for a compact nursing license. Once you are licensed in a state that participates in the compact license, you can apply to expand your license across state lines. Fees to do this are different depending on what state you live in. There are other requirements you need to meet in order to qualify for a compact nursing license, such as to have graduated from a board-approved education program and passed proper testing and have a criminal background check conducted by the federal government, among other things listed on the National Council of State Board of Nursing website.

How Does the Compact Nursing License Work for States Not Included?

Let me guess… your next question is, how does the compact nursing license work if you want to work in a state that is not included in the compact nursing license? Unfortunately, the answer is that the compact license doesn’t work in states that are not currently participating in it. For example, if you want to be a travel nurse in Hawaii or Alaska but you live in Maryland, you will have to get licensed to practice in those individual states since the compact license isn’t in effect there. You can do this by applying for licensure by endorsement to the board of nursing in Hawaii, Alaska or whatever state it is that you wish to practice in.

Although understanding things like multi-state licensing and travel nurse taxes can be challenging, the reward of working as a travel nurse is worth it. Not only can you pick from a variety of specialties, such as mental health or flight nursing, but you also get to experience the culture and people in many different cities across the United States. Don’t let the question of how does the compact nursing license work hold you back from pursuing your dreams. Do your research, ask questions, and take your nursing career on the road!

Already licensed? Apply for travel nursing jobs here.

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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