Compact nursing, also known as the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), is an agreement among participating states in the United States that allows registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs) to practice across state lines with a single multistate license. This groundbreaking initiative aims to facilitate the mobility of nurses while maintaining patient safety and ensuring high-quality healthcare delivery.
The agreement was created to promote the mobility of nurses and ensure the safety of both patients and nurses. In this article, we will explore the advantages of compact nursing, the list of states currently participating in the NLC, eligibility requirements, and the potential impact on the nursing profession.
The Nurse Licensure Compact is an agreement between states that permits nurses to practice in multiple states under a single license. The compact was first introduced in 2000, and it has seen significant expansion over the years.
The primary objectives of the NLC include:
The enhanced nursing licensure compact allows nurses to quickly respond to healthcare demands in different states, particularly during emergencies and staffing shortages. During times of public health emergencies or natural disasters, healthcare demands can surge in affected regions.
Nurses with multistate licenses can quickly respond to these emergencies by crossing state borders to provide much-needed healthcare services. Their ability to move across state lines without bureaucratic barriers helps ensure that the affected communities receive timely and critical care.
With a consistent standard of nursing practice and licensure requirements, the NLC promotes high-quality healthcare delivery across participating states. Some areas, particularly in rural and underserved regions, may face healthcare workforce shortages.
Compact nursing allows nurses from other states to step in and fill these staffing gaps, improving access to healthcare services for residents in these areas.
Nurses can move freely between compact states, eliminating the need for multiple state licenses and bureaucratic barriers. Certain states may have specialized healthcare facilities or services that draw patients from other states.
Nurses with multi-state licenses can work in these facilities, allowing patients to access specialized care without leaving their home states.
By promoting uniform standards and portability of licenses, the enhanced nurse licensure compact contributes to the advancement of the nursing profession as a whole. Nurses with a multistate license can easily provide temporary services in another compact state.
This flexibility allows them to help during peak demand periods, such as flu seasons or vacation periods, contributing to enhanced healthcare access for patients in those states.
Telehealth has become an increasingly important mode of delivering healthcare services, especially in remote and rural communities. A nurse with a compact license can offer telehealth services across state lines, extending access to healthcare for patients who might otherwise face challenges in accessing in-person care.
As of the writing of this article in 2023, 35 states are participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact. Here is the list of the states where nurses can obtain a compact nursing license:
20. New Hampshire
21. New Mexico
22. North Carolina
23. North Dakota
25. South Carolina
26. South Dakota
31. West Virginia
It’s important to note that the list of compact nursing states may change over time as more states consider joining the NLC to take advantage of its benefits.
Nurses can obtain a multi-state license with a simplified application process, reducing administrative burden and waiting times. Nurses interested in practicing in multiple compact states need to submit only one application for a multistate license. This eliminates the need to apply for individual licenses in each state of interest, saving time and reducing administrative burden.
The streamlined process results in faster licensure approval. Once a nurse meets the eligibility requirements and submits the application, the licensing board reviews it and grants the multi-state nursing license, allowing the nurse to practice in any participating state.
Nurses with a multistate license gain access to a larger pool of job opportunities, as they can practice in any of the 35 participating states. This makes it easier to find employment or relocate for career growth.
Nurses with multistate licenses can also take on travel assignments in different states, allowing them to experience new locations and develop their skills. Healthcare facilities and organizations can recruit nurses from compact states to address specific healthcare needs.
This ability to recruit from a larger pool of candidates makes it easier to fill positions and maintain adequate staffing levels.
The Nurse Licensure Compact provides nurses with increased flexibility and mobility in the workplace. This allows them to practice across state lines without having to obtain additional licenses for each new state.
With a multistate license, nurses are free to take up assignments in different states with ease, providing much-needed services in underserved areas or during peak demand periods.
The Nurse Licensure Compact helps nurses save money by eliminating the need for multiple licenses in different states. Nurses can use their multistate license to practice in participating states without having to pay additional fees or submit more applications.
This makes it easier and more cost-effective for nurses to fulfill job requirements and pursue career opportunities across state lines.
The Nurse Licensure Compact provides nurses with the opportunity to expand their professional network by connecting with other nurses in different states. This allows them to learn from each other and share their experiences, enabling them to deliver better patient care.
Professional networking is a powerful advantage of compact nursing that opens doors to collaboration, knowledge exchange, career growth, and leadership development. Nurses who participate in professional networking through the NLC can broaden their horizons, access valuable resources, and contribute to the advancement of the nursing profession.
Building a robust professional network across state lines allows nurses to thrive personally and professionally while positively impacting healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
Eligibility requirements for compact nursing, also known as the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), determine if a nurse is eligible to obtain a multistate license that allows them to practice in multiple compact states under a single license. The screening is done by an independent credentials review agency.
To qualify for compact nursing, nurses must meet specific criteria, which generally include the following:
The nurse must be a legal resident of a compact state. The primary state of residence is the state where the nurse holds a current, active, and unencumbered nursing license.
The nurse must hold a valid and unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical/vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) in their primary state of residence, which must be a compact state.
The nurse must have graduated from a nursing education program approved or accredited by the state’s board of nursing where the nurse’s primary residence is located.
Nurses applying for compact nursing must not have any felony convictions or significant misdemeanor convictions. Some minor offenses may not automatically disqualify the nurse, but they may be subject to review by the state’s board of nursing.
The nurse must not have any disciplinary actions or restrictions on their nursing license in any state. Disciplinary history will be thoroughly reviewed during the application process.
Some compact states may require nurses to undergo a drug screening as part of the licensure process.
The nurse must meet the uniform licensure requirements established by the NLC, which may include specific educational and examination criteria. It is important to note that the eligibility requirements may vary slightly from one compact state to another.
Additionally, nurses should be aware of any specific requirements or variations in licensing processes for the state they intend to practice in, as individual state boards of nursing may have additional criteria. Once a nurse meets all the eligibility requirements and successfully applies for a multi-state license, they can practice in any compact state without needing to obtain separate licenses for each state.
Nurses should keep their licenses in good standing, adhere to the NLC’s rules and regulations, and maintain compliance with their home state’s nursing board requirements to continue enjoying the benefits of compact nursing.
To apply for a multistate nursing license under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), you need to follow these general steps:
Ensure you meet the eligibility requirements for compact nursing, which typically include having an active, unencumbered nursing license in a compact state as your primary residence, completing an approved nursing education program, and having a clean disciplinary and criminal history.
Confirm whether your primary state of residence and the state(s) where you wish to practice are part of the NLC. You can check the current list of compact states on the official website of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
Reach out to the board of nursing in your primary state of residence to inquire about the application process for a multistate nursing license. They will provide you with the necessary information and forms.
Collect all the documents needed for the application, which may include your identification, nursing school transcripts, proof of current license, criminal background check, and any additional documents required by the state.
Complete the application form provided by the licensing board and submit it along with the required documents. Be sure to provide accurate and up-to-date information.
There will be fees associated with applying for a multistate nursing license. Ensure that you pay the required fees as specified by the licensing board.
Once your application is submitted, the licensing board will review your credentials and determine your eligibility. The approval process may take several weeks, so be patient during this time.
If your application is approved, you will receive your multistate nursing license, which will allow you to practice in all compact states. Be sure to keep the license in good standing by adhering to the NLC’s rules and regulations.
Once you have your multistate license, you can start practicing in other compact states without needing to apply for separate licenses.
It’s essential to note that some states may have additional requirements or variations in their application process. Therefore, it’s crucial to contact the board of nursing in each state where you plan to practice to ensure you are familiar with their specific requirements.
Remember that the process for obtaining a multistate nursing license may vary slightly depending on the state, so it’s best to consult with the appropriate licensing authorities for accurate and up-to-date information.
Compact nursing has the potential to significantly impact the nursing profession in various ways. As more states join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and nurses embrace the advantages it offers, the nursing profession may experience the following changes and developments:
Compact nursing facilitates greater mobility for nurses, allowing them to easily practice in multiple states with a single license. This increased mobility benefits nurses seeking career opportunities in different regions and supports healthcare facilities facing staffing shortages by enabling them to recruit nurses from other compact states.
Nursing shortages are a persistent challenge in many areas. Compact nursing allows healthcare organizations to tap into a larger pool of nurses, potentially alleviating nursing shortages and improving patient care in regions with high demand for nursing services.
The flexibility of compact nursing enables nurses to respond quickly to healthcare needs in different states, particularly during emergencies or times of increased patient demand. This improved access to healthcare can enhance patient outcomes and increase the overall efficiency of healthcare delivery.
With compact nursing, nurses can provide telehealth services across state lines, expanding access to healthcare in rural and underserved areas. This advancement in telehealth services contributes to improved healthcare accessibility and convenience for patients.
Compact nursing fosters networking and collaboration among nurses from different states. This sharing of knowledge, experiences, and best practices can lead to the adoption of innovative approaches to patient care and promote continuous professional development.
Nurses from compact states have the opportunity to collaborate and advocate for nursing policy changes at regional and national levels. Compact nursing strengthens the collective voice of nurses, potentially leading to positive policy reforms that benefit the nursing profession and patient care.
The ability to practice in multiple states under compact nursing can provide nurses with a broader range of career opportunities and professional growth. Nurses can explore various healthcare settings, work with diverse patient populations, and engage in research and educational activities to enhance their professional growth.
The uniform licensure requirements of the NLC contribute to a standardized level of nursing practice across participating states. This standardization promotes consistent quality of care and patient safety in the delivery of healthcare services.
Compact nursing encourages greater engagement and involvement of nurses in professional nursing associations, both at the state and national levels. This increased participation can lead to stronger advocacy efforts and better representation of nursing interests.
As nurses move across state lines and practice in different regions, it can help raise public awareness of the vital role nurses play in healthcare delivery. This recognition can lead to a greater appreciation for the nursing profession and its contributions to the well-being of society.
In conclusion, compact nursing has the potential to positively impact the nursing profession in numerous ways, from addressing workforce challenges and improving access to healthcare to fostering professional development and promoting nursing advocacy. As more states embrace the NLC and nurses leverage its benefits, the nursing profession is likely to experience continued growth and advancement.
Compact nursing can promote closer collaboration between nurses and other healthcare professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists. With nurses able to practice in multiple states, it can create a greater potential for interprofessional dialogue and exchange of best practices, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.
By making it easier for nurses to work in multiple states, compact nursing can open up opportunities for nurses to specialize in certain disciplines or focus on particular patient populations. This can create a more skilled and diverse healthcare workforce, as well as provide greater access to specialized care for patients.
As an individual nurse or a concerned citizen, there are several ways you can help your state join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and become part of the nursing compact list:
Familiarize yourself with the NLC and its benefits for nurses and healthcare delivery. Understand how compact nursing works, and its impact on workforce mobility, patient care, and access to healthcare.
Share information about the NLC and its advantages with your fellow nurses, nursing associations, healthcare organizations, and policymakers in your state. Raising awareness about compact nursing can generate interest and support for joining the compact.
Connect with nursing associations and professional organizations in your state. Advocate for the adoption of compact nursing by engaging in discussions, attending meetings, and sharing resources that highlight the benefits of joining the NLC.
Reach out to your state legislators and express your support for joining the NLC. Provide them with evidence of the positive impact compact nursing has had in other states and explain how it can benefit your state’s healthcare system and nursing workforce.
Support or participate in advocacy efforts aimed at introducing and passing pending legislation to join the NLC. Collaborate with nursing associations and other stakeholders to advocate for compact nursing at the state level.
Highlight success stories from other compact states, showcasing how nurses and patients have benefited from compact nursing. Provide concrete examples of how it has improved access to healthcare and positively impacted the nursing profession.
Address any concerns or misconceptions about compact nursing that may arise during discussions. Provide accurate information and data to alleviate concerns and demonstrate the value of joining the NLC.
If there are public hearings or discussions related to compact nursing in your state, attend them and express your support for joining the NLC. Your presence and input as a nurse can carry significant weight in the decision-making process.
Engage with professionals from other healthcare disciplines who may also benefit from joining the NLC. Collaborate to create a unified voice advocating for compact nursing in your state.
Keep yourself informed about the progress of legislative efforts and any updates regarding the NLC in your state. Stay connected with nursing associations and advocacy groups to be involved in the process.
Remember that joining the Nurse Licensure Compact is a legislative decision that requires support from various stakeholders. By actively advocating for compact nursing and engaging with policymakers and nursing associations, you can contribute to the efforts to have your state join the nursing compact list.
The Nurse Licensure Compact offers numerous advantages to both nurses and patients by promoting mobility, enhancing access to care, and improving healthcare quality. As more states join the compact nursing initiative, the nursing profession is likely to witness substantial growth and development.
Nurses interested in working in multiple states should familiarize themselves with the specific requirements of their state of residence and those of the compact states they wish to practice in. Compact nursing is undoubtedly an innovative and promising step forward for the nursing profession in the United States.