Ultimate Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) States Guide

Working as a travel nurse can be an exciting and lucrative opportunity, but licensing issues can limit your options. Fortunately, more states are entering the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which means that if you have earned licensure to practice in one state included in the compact, you can practice in any state that is also a member. Your multi-state license, along with your work history and other relevant data, is stored in a shared database so that potential employers can quickly review your background and verify your eligibility to practice.
If you would like to access your professional licensing information, you can visit the database at Nursys.com. Important Updates to the NLC On January 19, 2018, the NCSBN introduced the Enhanced Nurses Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to practice telemedicine in all the states included in the NLC. The eNLC also requires that participants go through a fingerprint criminal background check. All the existing NLC states, except Rhode Island, adopted the eNLC. There are also several nursing compact states with pending legislation about entering the eNLC. The break down of policies according to states can be found below.
Currently, there are 30 states in the newly minted eNLC. Working in eNLC States One of the advantages of living in an eNLC state is that you don’t have to fill out any additional applications to become a part of the eNLC. The eNLC is a great way to streamline the hiring process and minimize paperwork. As long as your state of residence is a part of the eNLC, you will automatically be included and able to work in any other state in the eNLC. In addition, once you have your license in a nursing compact state, it is good for life as long as you stay in good standing. When it comes to best practices, an out-of-state nurse should abide by the standards in the state where they are working.
States Participating in the NLC
You can find out more about the eNLC in each participating state and access important documents and applications by clicking on the links below:
Arizona Arkansas Colorado Delaware Florida Georgia Idaho Iowa Kentucky Maine Maryland Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska New Hampshire North Carolina North Dakota Oklahoma South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Virginia West Virginia Wyoming
Non-Compact States
If you have a nursing license in a compact state, then you are only eligible to practice in that state. For those who are making a permanent move to a new state or thinking about becoming a travel nurse, you will have to apply for a license in your new state. The licensing process varies from state to state and may take up to 30 days, so you will want to start your application as early as possible.
For learn more about how to apply for a license in a non-compact state, click on the links belows to learn more about the process in each state.
Alabama Alaska California Connecticut Hawaii Illinois Indiana Kansas * Louisiana * Massachusetts * Michigan * Minnesota Nevada New Jersey * New Mexico New York Ohio Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island Vermont Washington Wisconsin
* Kansas - In April of 2018, Kansas passed legislation to join the NLC and the state will be officially added to the compact on July 1, 2019.
* Louisiana - In May 2018, Louisiana voted to join the NLC and their implementation date is set for July 1, 2019.
* Massachusetts - In January of 2018, Representative Kay Khan introduced bill H.1188 that would have MA join the eNLC. In the past, similar bills have gone before the legislation, but there has been little progress. With this in mind, Khan asked that the bill be considered as an emergency action because delaying any longer continues to decrease patient access to care. As of June 2018, the bill had gone through committee and was recommended to pass. The House Committee on Ways and Means is currently reviewing the bill.
* Michigan - The state’s legislative body is currently considering bill HB 4938 that would allow MI to join the eNLC. You track its progress using this link. In September 2017, the bill was introduced and sent to committee and there has been no movement since then.
* New Jersey - Several legislators in New Jersey have also introduced bills that would allow the state to join the eNLC. So far, at least two bills have died in committee, but there are positive signs that the latest Senate Bill 103 may go the distance. It looks like it will only be a matter of time before NJ enters the compact.
Requirements to Receive a Nursing License
While requirements may vary a little from state to state, these are the basic requirements you will have to meet to practice as a nurse and have the potential to work as a travel nurse in different states:
You must graduate from an approved nursing program and be able to provide transcripts and proof of education.
You must pass the NCLEX exam.
You must demonstrate proficiency in English.
You must be able to verify any licenses from other states. Most of this information is stored in a national database, so it shouldn’t be a problem for employers to see proof of previous work and licenses in other nursing compact states.
You must report any criminal convictions, addiction and other potential problems that could affect your performance.
You must be in good physical and mental health.
You must participate in continuing education. The number of hours required will vary, but this is an essential part of staying in good standing and being able to continue to practice.
If you meet these requirements and your home state is a part of the NLC, you will be able to practice in any of the participating compact states listed above.
History of the NLC
The first version of the NLC was created in 2000 in an effort to help with the nursing shortage that continues to be a problem in 2018. Early advocates wanted to create a system akin to a driver’s license that would make it easy for nurses to practice in different states while still being held to the standards of their state of employment.
Ultimately, the goal was to have every state enrolled in the program, but there has been resistance along the way. Some compact states worried about maintaining standards of care and objected to the fact that there weren’t federal background checks put in place.
In response to these concerns, the Enhanced Licensure Compact (eNLC) was enacted on January 19, 2018. This updated version includes more rigorous criminal background checks. Recent changes also aim to improve access to healthcare, reduce nursing shortages and minimize costs to patients, hospitals and insurance companies.
Hopefully, these new changes will bring more states into the compact. As of late 2018, Michigan and New Jersey both have pending eNLC legislation that could make them the newest addition to the list of participating states.
Why aren’t more states a part of the NLC?
You might be surprised to learn that there are some opponents to the eNLC. Some argue that the training and care standards vary from state to state, making it difficult to ensure that nurses have the knowledge and skills to practice across state lines. The implementation of the eNLC tried to alleviate some of these concerns by issuing 11 licensure requirements. This list outlines both educational requirements along with criminal background checks.
In addition, some states are concerned that the eNLC will negatively affect the privacy of patients and result in a loss of revenue that is generated by individual state licenses. They are also worried about the rapid spread of telenursing and how it may impact patient care. Finally, the eNLC doesn’t have a clear and concise protocol for disciplinary actions, which is worrisome to some states. All of these factors have prevented a country wide adoption of the eNLC.
Supporters of the NLC
Over half the states and a long list of professional organizations support the eNLC and are actively working to promote the program and encourage more states to join. Some notable supporters include:
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
National Patient Safety Foundation
U.S. Department of Commerce
American Association of Colleges of Nurses
National League for Nursing
National Military Family Association
Nursing Licensure Compact FAQs
What do I have to do to receive a compact nursing license?
Nothing. If you have meet all the licensure requirements and your state of residence is a part of the eNLC, then you automatically have a compact nursing license.
What are the benefits of a compact nursing license?
The eNLC means that you will be able to practice, both in person and through telemedicine, in a current total of 26 states. If you want to move or you want to work as a travel nurse, as long as you practice in a compact state, you won’t have to worry about going through the licensure process and paying additional fees. Eliminating red tape will also allow you to begin practicing in another state just 48 hours after accepting a position.
How much does a compact nursing license cost?
Individual licensing costs vary from state to state, but you can expect to pay $200 to take the NCLEX and a license will typically cost between $50 to $100. It is also important to remember that you will need to renew your license on a regular basis also comes with a fee. Most states require renewal every 24 months. If you live in a compact state, there is no additional fee associated with your license to be able to practice across state lines.
Click here for a list of fees according to state.
Best Cities for Travel Nurses
Compact states make it easier for nurses to move and quickly begin work, but they are also perfect for travel nurses who want to experience new cities and gain experience at different hospitals. If you are thinking about becoming a travel nurse, here are some of the best cities to work based on cost of living, wages, access to amenities ease of transportation and other factors.
In the mood for some warm weather, beaches and a vibrant nightlife? Miami is a city that is rich in culture and home to some of the best medical centers in the country. The Civic Center medical complex, also known as the Health District, represents the second largest patient care and research facility in the US, which means plenty of employment and professional development opportunities.
Travel nurses will also have access to plenty of affordable housing that is fully furnished and located near public transportation. Travel nurses can quickly settle in and begin to enjoy all that the city has to offer.
Charleston is a unique city that is home to almost one million residents, yet still manages to maintain the feel of a small southern town. Horse-drawn carriages still traverse the cobblestone streets and antebellum houses are a staple of local architecture. You can spend your time off getting to know the rich local food scene or spend the day at one of the many beaches that are just a short drive from the center of the city. The city is also home to several hospitals, including: Roper Hospital, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital and MUSC Children’s Hospital, making it a great choice for travel nurses.
Not only is Durham rich in history, it is also home to a unique artistic and culinary community that truly make this city a unique place to live and work. Residents are known for being activists, supporting one another and working to build a cohesive community. This means that you can catch a concert, fundraiser, lecture, rally or practically any type of event every night of the week. Travel nurses will also enjoy a healthy job market with opportunities at some of the nation’s most respected medical facilities including Duke University Hospital and the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
While Houston is one of the biggest cities in Texas, it still offers an affordable cost of living and travel nurses will enjoy competitive wages that start at $70,000. Your money will go far in Houston and you can enjoy all the restaurants, entertainment and sporting events that come with living in a big city. Houston is also home to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is considered the top cancer center in the country.
Phoenix offers year-round warm weather, tons of sun and plenty of opportunities to get outdoors. If you want equal access to parks and all the entertainment and convenience that come with a big city, then Phoenix might be the perfect destination for your next travel nursing assignment. Nurses can secure positions at the Mayo Clinic-Phoenix, Banner University Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and many other nationally recognized facilities.
To learn more about which cities are the best choices for travel nurses, click here.
Challenges of Working as a Travel Nurse in Compact States
Many people assume that finding housing and transportation in a new city will be too difficult and they are hesitant to take the plunge and give travel nursing a try. Fortunately, those assumptions are wrong and it couldn’t be easier to work in compact states as a travel nurse.
Cities across the country are travel nurse friendly and there are plenty of short term housing options that come fully-furnished and located close to public transportation so that you don’t necessarily have to have your own vehicle. Finding the right housing is as easy as searching TravelNurseHousing.com and FurnishedFinder.com. These sites cater to travel nurses and make it easy to search through properties according to location, amenities, proximity to hospitals and other criteria.
You can easily find the right balance between location, cost, square-footage and other factors to help make your stay in any city as easy and enjoyable as possible.