How Does a Nurse Licensure Compact Work?
A compact nursing license makes it easy for nurses to become travel nurses, opening new experiences and better earnings to you.
What Is a Compact Nursing License?
A compact nursing license is a multi-state nursing license that covers multiple states across the United States. At the time of writing, there are 38 states that have signed up to the national compact license, though only 33 of these have implemented it. It is great for travel nurses and those working in telehealth, as it allows you to practice without having to obtain a license for each state in which you work.
The compact involves the following:
- A single application and credentialing process for each state
- A database of certifying agencies
- Emphasis on reciprocity between states
- Agreement between every participating state’s nursing board
Nurse Licensure Compact Pros and Cons
The Nurse Licensure Compact is an agreement between the states that has been designed to streamline the process of nurse licensure across states.
The Nurse Licensure Compact was created for nurses to be able to practice their profession without being limited by where they are licensed. Advantages include that it:
- Enables the mobility of healthcare professionals without needing individual licenses to practice in each state, often leading to a better job and higher salary.
- Allows greater access to telehealth, with healthcare professionals able to cover patient appointments 24/7 irrespective of where they live.
- Saves travel nurses time and money, because they don’t need to apply for a new license to work in a new state.
- Enables multi-state healthcare providers to be more flexible with their staff.
As far as disadvantages of nurse licensure compact, critics say that the national compact makes it more difficult for state nursing boards to have oversight of vetting licenses and coordinating disciplinary actions. It has also been suggested that it makes it more difficult to establish which board any dispute should be investigated by.
How Do I Apply for a Compact State Nursing License?
Applying for a compact state nursing license is automatic, providing you live in a state that is part of the compact. To apply, you must:
- Reside in an Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact state – this must be your primary residence
- Be actively licensed as an RN, LPN, or LVN
- Meet the requirements of licensure in your home state
The application process differs between states, and the examination and endorsement process, as well as the licensure fees differs from state to state. However, in many states, if you are applying for a license for the first time, you must show:
- Your primary state of residence is a compact state
- You have graduated from a board-approved education program
- You are proficient in English
- You have passed NCLEX–RN or NCLEX-PN examination (or equivalent)
- You are eligible for or hold an active license without active discipline
- You have submitted to state and federal background checks by fingerprint
- You are not a convicted felon
- You have no misdemeanor convictions related to nursing
- You hold a valid United States Social Security number
You should always check with your state’s Nursing Board to confirm exact requirements.
If you already hold a single state license, then you should apply to your state’s Board of Nursing to apply for a multi-state license.
If you don’t live in a state that is part of the compact, then you will need to become endorsed in each state in which you wish to practice. Here’s the crunch – you cannot apply for a multi-state license, unless you live in a state that is part of the compact.
You can get over this residency requirement – by moving to a state that is part of the compact, and therefore change your primary license to that state.
You will also need to have graduated from a board-approved education program, have a clear criminal background check, and have proper certification. The fees you will be required to pay vary from state to state.
The Nurse Licensure Guidance Tool will help you understand the exact requirements for multi-state licensing through your state’s Nursing Board.
You will need to prove your primary state of residence, which is determined by the state that is noted on various legal documents, such as:
- Your driver’s license
- Federal income tax return
- Voter registration card
A Word of Warning!
If you move permanently to another state, you must apply for another license in your new state, and for multi-state status. You’ll also need to remain in good standing (for example, no criminal record).
Where Could a Multi-State License Take You? Nursing Compact States 2021
There are currently 38 member jurisdictions of the nursing compact. This includes the U.S. territory of Guam. The current (July 2021) participant states are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
You can view the up-to-date list of participating states and territories on the NCSBN website.
Where would you like to work? A multi-state license gives you the license to work as a nurse across a huge swathe of the United States – and we’ve got jobs in many of them waiting to be filled. To learn more, or for the answers to any questions you may have about travel nursing, contact Loyal Source today.