What Do Nurses Need to Know About the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact?

Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD


November 01, 2017

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What Do Nurses Need to Know About the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact?

Response from Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD
           Healthcare attorney

The New Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact

Nurses in 26 states—enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) states— may obtain a nursing license that enables the nurse, as of January 18, 2018, to work with patients, in person or via telehealth, in any of the other states in the eNLC. This saves time for both nurses and regulators. Although these nurses may skip the licensing process in the eNLC states, they still must follow the laws and nurse practice act of each state where a patient is located. The eNLC affects registered nurses and licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses; it does not apply to advanced practice nurses.

The original nurse licensure compact, underway since 1998, was enhanced this summer through legislative action in 26 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming). Some states that hadn't been in the original compact joined the enhanced compact, and four states that were part of the original compact have not yet joined. Those four states— Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island—are considering legislation to join the eNLC. Nurses in these states will operate under the original compact rules until the state signs on or opts out, or until there are fewer than two member states in the original compact. Furthermore, Michigan, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have legislation about the eNLC pending and may be joining the eNLC if that legislation passes. Nurses can find out where their state stands at eNLC Implementation.

What's 'Enhanced' About the Compact?

The "enhancement" to the compact rules were the addition of a criminal background check, addition of a restriction on acquiring a license if one has ever been convicted of a felony, and adoption of 11 uniform licensure requirements, which solves a problem of states differing in their licensure requirements.

Here are the 11 uniform requirements for an eNLC applicant:

  1. Meets the requirements for licensure in the home state (state of residency)

  2. (a) Has graduated from a board-approved education program; or (b) has graduated from an international education program (approved by the authorized accrediting body in the applicable country and verified by an independent credentials review agency)

  3. Has passed an English proficiency examination (applies to graduates of an international education program not taught in English or if English is not the individual's native language)

  4. Has passed an NCLEX-RN® or NCLEX-PN® Examination or predecessor exam

  5. Is eligible for or holds an active, unencumbered license (ie, without active discipline)

  6. Has submitted to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks

  7. Has no state or federal felony convictions

  8. Has no misdemeanor convictions related to the practice of nursing (determined on a case-by-case basis)

  9. Is not currently a participant in an alternative program

  10. Is required to self-disclose current participation in an alternative program

  11. Has a valid United States Social Security number.

Nurses who had a multistate license as of July 20, 2017, will not need to meet these requirements and will be grandfathered in under whatever requirements they met at the time of their application. However, if they move to another state, they will be subject to the requirements of the eNLC.

At a teleconference hearing on December 8, 2017, the Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators will take comments about the eNLC. Information on this hearing and instructions on how to submit comments are available here.

To receive email updates on the compact, sign up at www.nursecompact.com.


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