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Nursing Regulations in Compact States

Career News March 26, 2013

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has developed the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), which allows a nurse who has completed the nursing examination and earned a license in a member state the eligibility to utilize and eventually practice in a compact state. The following are 24 member states of the compact state agreement:

•Wisconsin
•Virginia
•Utah
•Texas
•Tennessee
•South Dakota
•South Carolina
•Rhode Island
•North Dakota
•North Carolina
•New Mexico
•New Hampshire
•Nebraska
•Missouri
•Mississippi
•Maryland
•Maine
•Kentucky
•Iowa
•Idaho
•Delaware
•Colorado
•Arkansas
•Arizona

Upon completing their nursing education, nurses are required to take the National Council for Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This exam does not award a nursing license, however. Nurses must apply to their state for a nursing license. This can be a cumbersome process for a nurse that was educated in one area and is moving to another or even established nurses that would like to move after a period of time. The compact nursing license allows nurses to use their license in member states.

When a nurse with a compact license is moving, the individual cannot simply begin practicing in the new area. Each state has specific guidelines on what is required to formally obtain licensure, and a nurse should contact the state board of nursing in their new state of residence or employment.

Nurses that are relocating to a compact state from a non-compact state should not assume that they will receive a compact license. In these cases, the nurse will usually receive a license specific to the state of their primary residence.

The following are some general guidelines to consider for nurses aspiring to the compact nursing license requirement:

•All nurses must hold a license from their primary state of residence.
•In the event of a move to compact states, the nurse will usually be given a period of time to establish a new permanent address, and must re-establish licensure in the new state of primary residence as necessary.
•Nurses will still need to contact the state board of nursing in the new state in which they need to practice, despite the compact agreement.
•A licensing fee will normally be required in each state in which the nurse is licensed. The licensing fee varies by state.
•A background check and discipline check are common staples for the licensure process.
•Nurses are limited to one compact license.
•Compact licensure normally is for Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses. A select number of states also recognize advanced practice nursing certifications as part of the agreement. The state licensing board is the source to determine if your licensure or certification is valid.

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