For travel nurses, understanding how compact nursing states operate is paramount for an established, long-term career in the field. Having a multi-state license is not only a must-have as a travel nurse, but it is also a mechanism to ensure you’re practicing nursing under legal standards that apply to most of the states you work.
What’s the Nursing Licensure Compact?
The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), which started back in 1977, is an agreement that allows nurses to have a single license that permits them to practice in multiple states. To this date, there are 34 states which have ruling NLC legislation available, which means they recognize a multi-state license or have this legislation currently pending.
What about the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC)
Stemming from the Nursing Licensure Compact, in 2018, legislation that adopted new requirements for nurses to work in these compact states became available. The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) ensures nurses with the flexibility, time-saving, and lower expenses of taking on travel assignments in any of the participant states. Not to mention, nurses are now able to practice in-person or through telehealth from their home state of licensure or any other eNLC state. There are currently 29 stats with the eNLC legislature.
Who’s Grandfather Under this Agreement?
Members of the original NLC may be grandfather into the eNLC. Any nurse who held a multi-state license before July 2017 may be grandfathered. To verify if you’re part of this group, visit nursys.com and enter your license number on their QuickConfirm form to confirm you have the authority to practice.
Why the Nursing Compact States Are Important
As a travel nurse, you already understand the implications of working in multiple states. The Nursing Licensure Compact aims to remove these complications and make it easier for nurses to work across state lines. The NLC allows you to get rid of multiple renewal requirements and fees while expanding your mobility and giving you access to a nation-wide healthcare system of nurses.
Eligibility for Compact Nursing License
First of all, only nurses who declare a compact state as their primary state of residence may be eligible for a multi-state license. If you don’t live in a compact state, you will be limited to a single-state license that is valid in that state only and might require other single-state licenses if you want to work in another state. As a resident of a noncompact state, you can apply to as many single-state licenses as you want.
If you do live in a compact state, some of the eligibility requirements include:
- Primary residence in an NLC state.
- Have an active license as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed professional nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN),
- Meet specific requirements held by your home state and of the state where your practice is.
- Pass an NCLEX Nurse Examination.
Keep in mind that an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) isn’t eligible for a multi-state license and must hold an individual state license in each state of APRN practice.
Current List of Nursing Compact States
Here’s the latest list of nursing compact states. Keep in mind that more states are continuing to adopt the multi-state license requirements and offerings.
- New Hampshire*
- New Jersey
- New Mexico*
- North Carolina*
- North Dakota*
- South Carolina*
- South Dakota*
- West Virginia*
*These are states that have an existing eNLC legislation.
Additionally, these are the states with NLC legislation currently pending:
- Rhode Island
Thankfully, over 50% of the states are members of the eNLC legislation, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to move across states.
How to Apply for a Compact Nursing License
Once you’re sure you meet all the requirements, you can start the process on your state board of nursing website. Find the application form, often listed under “eNLC Upgrade Application” or “Apply for a multi-state license.”
Go through the application progress, if you need assistance, working with a travel nurse agent can be helpful. Then, complete the mandatory fingerprint scan and background check, which will occur at an approved center in your residential state.
After this step, usually a few days or after a couple of weeks, you will receive your new multi-state license in the mail. Once you receive this license, you should be ready to practice in all participatory eNLC states.
Remember to check your current license status. There’s a possibility that your current nursing license is a valid multi-state one. If you’re unsure, check your eligibility using the website mentioned above for verification.
Whether you’re just getting started as a travel nurse or you’re a seasoned nurse, working with a travel agency to ensure your multi-state license is valid and active can place you at an advantage with other nurses. Make sure to reach out to your coordinator or travel nurse agent to go over requirements, updates, and any other processes needed to be able to practice nursing in compact states. At Stability Healthcare, our recruiters and staff members are always available to answer your questions and guide you through the process of obtaining your multi-state license.