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The Compact Nursing License: 2020 Updates

More than two million nurses can put their skills to work in multiple states, thanks to the growing number of nursing boards participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC is implemented in 32 states, providing a multistate license that makes it easy for some RNs to cross boundaries and fill the growing demand for nurses throughout the country. Here's an overview of recent changes to the Nurse Licensure Compact and what you can expect in 2020.

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Which Contract RNs Benefit from the NLC?

The goal of the NLC is to streamline the process for nurses to work across state boundaries. Participating states have implemented uniform standards of licensing.

Nurses whose primary residence is an NLC state can hold a multistate, or compact, license as long as their credentials are in good standing with their state board. This lets them practice in their home state and other NLC states without applying for another license. Your primary state of residence is where you pay federal income tax, vote, and/or hold a driver's license.

The States Accepting a Compact Nursing License

Alabama is the most recent addition to the compact as of January 1, 2020. This means:

  • If your primary state of residence is part of the NLC and you hold a multistate license, you can now practice in Alabama.
  • If your primary state of residence is in Alabama, you can convert your single state Alabama nursing license into a multistate license. This may be done even if your license isn't yet expiring.

To apply to convert your license, log in to your profile on the Alabama Board of Nursing website.

As of January 2020, the following states are part of the NLC:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

The NLC makes it simple for nurses to explore other parts of the country and work at the same time. For example, if you'd like to spend time discovering the Southern states, you can arrange contract nursing assignments in Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia without needing a separate license in each state.

If you're not sure where you can practice, verify your licensure on the NURSYS website.

States in the Process of Implementing the NLC

If you have a multistate license, you may soon be able to practice in Indiana and New Jersey. Both states signed legislation in 2019 to become part of the compact and are currently implementing its requirements. This means:

  • Nurses whose primary state of residence is Indiana or New Jersey may obtain a multistate license when the NLC is fully implemented in their state.
  • Nurses whose primary residence is another NLC state may practice in Indiana or New Jersey with their multistate license when the NLC is fully implemented in the state.

Visit the NLC website for updates.

States with Pending NLC Legislation

RNs with a compact license may be able to practice in even more states in the coming years. As of January 2020, five additional states have pending NLC legislation. Once the legislation is passed, these states can also begin the process of implementation:

  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Licensure Not Covered By The NLC

The following states do not have legislation pending for the Nurse Licensure Compact:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island (was part of the NLC until 2018)

This means you must apply for a single state license if:

  • You have a multistate license and want to accept a contract nursing assignment in a state that hasn't implemented the Nurse Licensure Compact
  • Your primary residence is one of the non-NLC states and you want to accept a contract nursing assignment in an NLC state

Contact the nursing board in the state you want to practice in for a single state license. In most cases, you can obtain one by verifying your current licenses and applying for licensure by endorsement.

Benefits of the NLC for Contract Nurses

The Nurse Licensure Compact offers a convenient way for contract RNs to take advantage of work opportunities in many locations in the United States. If you're interested in the freedom and flexibility of contract nursing, browse our current contract RN job openings to find one that's right for you.

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