If you’re an RN in the United States who likes to travel, you’ve probably either considered obtaining a multi-state license. The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) grants nurses the eligibility to work in not only their home state, but also in the 24 states (and counting) that are part of the NLC membership.
Travel nurses have benefited greatly from the flexible and ever-expanding Nurse Licensure Compact. It was created by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing as a mutual recognition plan in the late 90’s to grant easier work access to nurses. With a multi-state license, nurses could work in different locations without needing to apply for new licenses everywhere they went. As of January 2013 similar nurse practicing states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin all particular in the NLC. (Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Illinois, and New York are pending legislation as of now.)
What are the requirements for nurses wanting to obtain a compact (multi-state) license?
- Must live in one of the eligible states of the compact.
- Must be a current RN (or LPN) with good standing.
- Must have an NLC state a their primary state of residency.
- Must meet your home state’s licensure requirements. However, keep in mind that you must practice the particular state’s nurse practices when you are working in the state you are in, no matter what state you permanently reside. It’s kind of like when you have a driver’s license in a state, yet can drive in other states as long as you follow that state’s particular road rules.
Frequently asked questions:
- Q: “How do nurses work in non-compact states?”A: Nurses still need to obtain licenses to work in non-compact states.
- Q: “How do you determine what your primary-residence state is?” A: The state a nurse claims of his/her tax return is what claims residence.
- Q: “What if you’re a nurse with a primary residence is not a compact state but work in a compact state?” A: That license is only valid in that particular compact state. Unfortunately, if your primary state of residence is not a NLC state, then every other state you want to work in will require a single-state license to practice.
- Q: “Why aren’t more states part of the NLC?” A: State laws govern medical practice. Regulations are in place for the safety and health of the public. There’s just too different of rules depending on which part of the country you’re in.
- Q: “Can advanced practice register urses (APRNs) get a compact license?” A: No. APRNs must apply for licensure in each state he/she wishes to work in. The only exception is when an employee works in a federal facility with exemption to the rule.
For more information regarding NCSBN’s multi-state license rules visit https://www.ncsbn.org/94.htm or https://www.nursys.com/.