Thanks to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), if you’re licensed in one of 25 NLC member states, you’ve been able to travel the country and provide patient care in 24 other NLC member states without the need for additional licensure. Maryland was the first compact state to sign on in 1999, while Montana was the last in 2015.
In 2015, the Boards of Nursing updated and revised the NLC, creating the Enhanced NLC, or eNLC. The actual eNLC implementation date is Jan. 19, 2018, but with the New Year 🎉 just around the corner, now’s the time to understand the compact state license changes that are quickly approaching.
Who’s In and Who’s Out?
First things first—not every state in the original NLC is on board with the eNLC. Specifically, Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island (as things currently stand) are NLC states that will not become part of the eNLC on Jan. 19. If you hold a nursing license in one of those states, once the implementation date arrives, travel nursing under your multi-state license will be limited to the other two states that remain in the original compact. A nurse with a multi-state license whose home state is New Mexico, for example, can still travel to work in Colorado or Rhode Island. However, if you’re licensed in a state that moved to the eNLC (let’s say, Texas), you’ll need a state-specific nursing license to work in Colorado, New Mexico, or Rhode Island.
When one door closes, however, another opens, and five states that weren’t part of the original NLC have jumped on the eNLC bandwagon. Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming will be part of the eNLC program, and Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have pending legislation that would allow them to add their names to the list.
Here’s an at-a-glance map of states that have adopted or have pending eNLC legislation.
Have License, Will Travel
If you have a multi-state license under the original NLC compact and your home state has joined the eNLC, you’ll be grandfathered into the eNLC, meaning you’re good to go—you can travel to and work in any other eNLC state without jumping through licensure hoops. For example, if your home state is currently North Carolina and you hold a multi-state license under the NLC, you can work in Maryland, West Virginia, or any other state that’s part of the eNLC come Jan. 19.
However, if you were to move your permanent residency from North Carolina to Maryland (or any other eNLC state), you’ll need to obtain a license to practice in that state plus meet the Uniform Licensure Requirements (ULR) for a multi-state license (more on that in a bit).
Turning the tables, if you live in Florida (which just entered the eNLC and was not an NLC member) and your New Year’s resolution is to embark on a travel nursing adventure, you’re starting from scratch. If that’s the case, you have to check three proverbial boxes: you must apply through your state Board of Nursing, pay a fee (varies by state), and meet the ULR.
The ULR is a set of 11 requirements that broadly fall into three categories: your qualifications ✅, your track record ✅, and your work eligibility ✅. Included in the qualifications bucket is a suitable education, passing an NCLEX or predecessor exam, English proficiency, and meeting the licensure requirements in your home state. The background qualifications include not having active disciplinary actions on your license, no felony or nursing-related misdemeanor convictions, no current participation in alternative programs, and undergoing fingerprint screening. Work eligibility is simply having a valid Social Security number.
If you live in a state that’s new to the eNLC, you’ll receive a notification from your state Board of Nursing outlining the steps to take in order to begin practicing in other states. Applications should be available online by Jan. 19.
Diving into the Details
It’s important for current travel nurses in NLC-to-eNLC states to know that they’re covered. If, by July 20, 2017, you were licensed in an NLC state that adopted the eNLC framework, then your multi-state license will roll over to an eNLC multi-state license on Jan. 19, 2018. The only exceptions are if you have since moved to a different state, allowed your license to expire, or were convicted of a felony or nursing-related misdemeanor 🚨.
Finally, let’s tackle those leftover states that were a part of the original NLC but didn’t make the transition. One or more may still adopt legislation that moves them into the eNLC. If that happens, you may find that you now live in an eNLC state and want to practice in an NLC state, in which case you can apply for a single state license by endorsement.
There’s consensus that the three holdover NLC states (Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island) will continue to push legislation to become part of the eNLC. The original NLC will continue to exist as long as there are at least two member states. And there’s every possibility that more states (like Michigan, New Jersey, and Massachusetts) will join the eNLC party. If so, that will open up even more opportunities for travel nurses to see the country, embark on adventures, and create lasting memories.
If you have questions about how your compact state license will be affected in 2018 by the implementation of the eNLC, contact a travel nurse recruiter at Next Travel Nursing today 👍.