Wouldn't it be nice to have one nursing license that would be recognized by every state? One license that would be recognized by every state board of nursing would be much more convenient for those of us who practice in more than one state. Only one licensure fee would be nice, too.
Well, the licensure boards of nursing in several states are working to attain this goal. Many state, 20 as of November 2006, have joined the Nurse Licensure Compact.1 The governing boards of nursing in these states have an agreement that allows nurses with a license from one state to also practice in other states. This agreement allows a mutual recognition or interstate practice. This agreement grants a nurse the privilege to practice across state lines. This will function similar to a driver's license.2,3 Legislation must be passed by each state interested in participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact.1 At this time, only registered nurses and licensed practical nurses will be allowed to participate. Advanced practice nurses are not included at this time.
So, how does this work? The nurse's primary state of residence will be the "home state." This nurse can then practice in other states that recognize the Nurse Licensure Compact. These states are known as "remote states" or "compact states." Thus, nurses will need only one license to practice in their home state and remote states as long as all of the involved states recognize the Nurse Licensure Compact.1 For example, my home state is Kentucky, but I could also practice in Indiana (remote state) with this one license, assuming that both Kentucky and Indiana recognize the Nurse Licensure Compact. At the time of writing this article, neither Kentucky nor Indiana recognized the Nurse Licensure Compact.
This measure allows nurses easier access to practice in other states or jurisdictions. The nurse will pay one licensure fee and must meet the requirements for relicensure, such as continuing education, in his or her home state. Reciprocity is granted by other states that recognize the Nurse Licensure Compact. Of course, it is the responsibility of the nurse to know the practice standards for each state in which he or she practices.4
I know this is not a life-altering event. However, it does make things a little easier for those nurses who hold licensure in more than one state. Making things a little easier is always good.
If your state does not recognize the Nurse Licensure Compact, lobby your state board of nursing. Encourage your state legislature to enact this important legislation. Make things a little easier for yourself.
Vickie A. Miracle, EdD, RN, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC
Editor, DCCN and Lecturer
School of Nursing