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Take nursing beyond your state's borders.
By Nanci Kulig
How many nursing licenses do you need if you live in Indiana but practice in Illinois? How about if you practice telemedicine in multiple states during any given shift?
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has devised a plan called the mutual recognition model in which you'd need only one license to practice across state boundaries. (See "Defining terms.") States that adopt this model enter into a compact by which they agree to recognize the licenses of nurses in the other states involved. Here are answers to some key questions about mutual license recognition.
Q How does the interstate compact work?
A It works much like a driver's license. A nurse who is licensed in, say, Utah would be able to practice in any state that has passed the compact. However, she must abide by the remote state's nurse practice act and other regulations, and it's her job to find out what those are.
Q What states have passed the
A So far,13 states have entered the nurse licensure compact. Nurses in Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin can legally practice in all of these states. Maine passed the compact and began public rule-making hearings in February of 2001. Idaho presently has a mutual recognition bill under consideration in its legislature.
Q Under the compact, will I need more than one license to practice outside of my home state?
A If both your home state and the state you practice in have passed the interstate compact, you'll have a license only from your home state. If the state where you practice hasn't passed the compact, you'll need a license from that state, too.
Q How would disciplinary action work if an incident occurs while I'm working in a remote state?
A The remote state can revoke your privilege to practice in that state, but it can't take action against your license. Only your home state can take action against your license. However, the remote state may share information with your home state and you may face disciplinary action in both.
Q Does the interstate compact apply to advanced practice nurses?
A No, not at this time. The NCSBN has formed a task force to examine how a compact could include advanced practice nurses.
Q Does the compact include LPNs and LVNs?
Q Do any nurses see a downside to mutual recognition of licensure?
A Some nurses are concerned that the compact could undermine collective bargaining efforts in labor disputes by making it easier for hospitals to hire strikebreaking nurses from other states.
Q Where can I get more information about the compact?
A Visit NCSBN's Web site at http://www.ncsbn.org and search using the terms "mutual recognition" and "interstate compact."
Q When will my state pass legislation for the compact?
A Check with your state board of nursing. You can find information at www.ncsbn.org/files/boards/boardscontact.asp