If you're a nurse, you know that the nursing licensure process can be a bit of a headache. You have to renew your license in every state you work in, and keep track of all of the different requirements for each one. Thankfully, there is a streamlined way to do this! The enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) makes it easier for nurses to work in multiple states.
What Travel Nurses Need to Know
The Compact is an agreement between states that allows nurses to have one license that is valid in all participating states. This makes it much easier for nurses to work in multiple states, as they only need to keep track of one licensure process. The eNLC has been around for years, but new states are constantly joining making travel nursing more accessible than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed the U.S. the importance of having portability among healthcare workers. Throughout the outbreak, different areas of the country became hotspots at different times. As conditions worsened, nurses and other frontline healthcare workers from less impacted areas were asked to travel to these hotspots to help overrun hospitals and clinics.
This reciprocity between states proved vital to the pandemic response. It also provided the needed momentum for more state legislatures to consider adopting the eNLC.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, individual states enacted emergency legislation allowing nurses to practice between states, regardless of Compact status. These emergency actions were vital to ensuring the hardest-hit communities could bring in workers from other states. In many cases, non-Compact states point to the pandemic response as a significant reason why nursing compact legislation is now a priority.
Most states let the emergency legislation expire in 2021. However, a few states maintained the legislation through the first half of 2022. Check the complete list of State Response to COVID-19 to better understand the current status of each state.
Nurses who have a current Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) license who wish to transition to the eNLC are not required to pay additional fees. If they pass the requirements, they will be issued a new eNLC license. If you reside in an eNLC state and your license is coming up for renewal, you will have the option of applying for the eNLC.
While each state is responsible for notifying nurses about changes to the licensure process and how to obtain a multistate license, all nurses should stay informed through their state nursing board website. Also, for information specific to the eNLC, sign up for the Nursys-e-Notify system, which provides real-time notifications about the eNLC. Nursys is a free news and information source provided by the U.S. Board of Nurses.
Requirements for the eNLC include:
- Nurses must claim residency in an eNLC state to apply for a Compact license.
- Nurses who are seeking their first licensure have the option to choose between an eNLC or a single-state license.
- If you are holding a Compact license, you must meet the continuing education (CE) requirements for your own state. Courses and hours vary by state.
Travel Nursing with the Compact Today
Today, most of the country is either in the Compact or taking steps to join it. There are 37 states and two U.S. territories that have passed eNLC legislation and belong to the Compact. Of the 37, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, have entered the Compact but are still awaiting implementation. In addition, eight more states have pending eNLC legislation.
A complete list of eNLC state updates can be found here.
For travel nurses, securing a multi-state license is opening up more opportunities throughout the country every day. Plus, holding a Compact license makes you more desirable to employers because you can fill immediate job vacancies in Compact states without going through the state licensing process.
The demand for travel nursing in certain specialties is also on the rise like operating room and surgery-dependent specialties that were shut down for electives surgeries during parts of the pandemic. Whether due to emergency needs or to fill temporary nurse staffing shortage situations, having a Compact license can open up a world of opportunities for those who are interested in travel nursing.
Travel Nursing with SHC
With most of the country participating in a multi-state licensing Compact, there have never been more choices in travel assignments for nurses and advanced practice providers. Contact Supplemental Health Care today and see where your next adventure awaits!