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What is the National Nurse Licensing Compact?

What is the National Nurse Licensing Compact?

A recent advancement in the licensing of nurses is the National Nurse Licensing Compact, approved May 4, 2015. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing defines the innovation as, “allowing an advanced practice nurse to hold one multi-state license with a privilege to practice in other compact states.”

The NCSCBN developed a model for states to enact this Compact. Some of the states who have already approved this model for advanced practice nurses include Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

Similarly, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) for registered nurses allows professionals to have one license to practice in multiple states. Similarly, registered nurses have one license to practice in multiple states with the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The advanced practice nurses’ Compact only reaches to a few states thus far. However, registered nurses with this Compact can practice in 34 states as of January 2018.

The Benefits

There are huge benefits to this “universal remote” of licenses. Nurses with this Compact can work across state lines without having to apply to half a dozen states for licensure. With the rapidly increasing nursing shortage, this is a huge benefit. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistcs projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs for replacements and retired nurses. Part of the process of relocating or placing a nurse is applying for a new state license. With the Compact, nurses could apply one time to a multi-state license. Then, they can work in multiple places without hindrance or any waiting time.

This Compact also allows nurses to be mobile, filling needs where they arise and providing for new experiences. Supplemental Healthcare believes that the Compact should be viewed like a driver’s license. If a nurse is qualified to practice medicine in one state, he or she should be qualified to practice in any state. A driver does not apply for dozens of state license. With the Compact, a nurse will only apply for one license.

The Criticisms

However, just as there are supporters of this Licensing Compact, there is criticism as well. Daily Nurse writes that one of the areas of concern is in professional development. Even though a multi-state license holder is expected to meet educational requirements, critics say that there are too many variables between nursing boards to “level the playing field.”

Some states require continuing education for registered nurses. For example, Ohio requires registered nurses to pursue 24-hours of continuing education every two years to maintain a status of good standing on their license. Other states, however, do not require the same standards. Some are concerned that this Compact brings the bar down for professional development for certain states to meet the lower requirements of other states.

Another critique against the Nursing Compact which Daily Nurse presents is discipline across multiple states. Nurses are not eligible to apply for the Licensing Compact if they have felony convictions or if they are enrolled in mental health or chemical dependency programs.  While this might be an asset in some ways, keeping the quality of registered and advanced practice nurses high, it also makes disciplinary action difficult. Different states hold different standards for discipline, which could lead to messy debates over reprimand for a nurses’s actions.

Final Thoughts

Yes, the National Nurse Licensing Compact has its kinks to work out. All in all, the benefits outweigh to the criticisms according to most healthcare sources. This innovation for nursing will provide ease of transition for travel nurses, it will allow nurses to work across the country, and it will bring uniformity to licensing.

Are you eligible for a multi-state license? Read here to browse the qualification for this Compact, and to find out more about this advancement in healthcare licensing.

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