The life of a travel nurse is full of freedom, until you wanna cross fresh and fab state lines on the quick. The 100-year-old nursing licensure model lived well past its laborious shelf life.

Thankfully, it’s modernized here and there over the years. That’s not to say it isn’t a process, and a moving target at times, but we’ve come a long way.

Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC)

The original NLC took effect in 2000, ushering in a four-state agreement allowing nurses to obtain a single license to practice in Colorado, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Fifteen long years later, the NLC expanded to a 25-state region.

“Legislation allowing nurses to practice across multiple state lines while upholding high-quality standards of care revolutionized the industry for travel nurses and nurses providing telehealth services or, say, disaster relief assistance,” states Shannyn Snyder, LRS Healthcare retention manager.

2018’s Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC)

Glory be, the compact expanded again January 19, 2018. Now travel nurses can practice across 29 states with 11 more pending legislation.

“The enhanced expansion is awesome, and recruiters (well, good recruiters) went above and beyond to educate their travelers on what the expansion meant for them,” said Snyder. “There was some confusion regarding the recently added states—nurses with single-state licenses in those states had to apply for the eNLC. Nurses who previously held the original NLC license did not.”

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, new applicants residing in compact states will need to meet 11 uniform licensure requirements. And applicants who don’t meet the new licensure requirements for whatever reason may still be eligible for a single-state license.

Single-State Licensing—Oy Vey

States not participating in the eNLC require nurses to obtain a license specific to their state. This is a hurdle for several reasons such as:

  1. It is an additional expense.
  2. It can be a time-sensitive process for assignment placement.
  3. As Snyder puts it, “Some of those applications read like stereo instructions—they can be challenging at times to complete properly.”

Time will tell if or when the nation will see additional enhanced licensure expansions, but we have our hopes high and fingers crossed. We know it’s not an easy process for the nursing boards either—we’re all in the same boat trying to sail in the same, more simplified direction. We see 2018’s Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact as yet another step in a great direction and will be celebrating it alongside our travel nurses until the next expansion rolls around.

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