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Understanding the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) was started in January 1, 2000 with four participating states: Utah, Maryland, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Eight years after the first four member states adopted this interstate compact, a total of 22 states have enacted and implemented the NLC. By July of this year, Rhode Island will be the newest participating state pending its implementation of the NLC.

The NLC utilizes the mutual recognition model of nurse licensure. This allows the nurse to have one license (in his/her state of residency) and practice in other participating states, subject to each state's nursing practice laws and discipline. Simply put, the nurse is allowed to practice nursing across state lines.

Obtaining a license to practice nursing in any of the Nurse Licensure Compact participating states means that a nurse has greater mobility in terms of nursing practice as he or she can now practice nursing in any compact state without the need to obtain an additional license.

For example, if a nurse's state of licensure is New Mexico, he or she can practice nursing in the state of Utah or Wisconsin (both are party to the NLC) without the need to obtain licensure by endorsement to the states of Utah and Wisconsin.

This multistate licensure privilege is not available to nurses registered in non-NLC states such as Vermont as a nurse who is licensed to practice in Vermont is only allowed to practice in that state. If the said nurse wants to practice nursing in other states such Connecticut or California, he or she must seek licensure by endorsement to the states of Connecticut and/or California to be able to do so.

The Nurse Licensure Compact has received widespread support from many state nursing associations, several hospital associations, and the U.S. Department of Commerce as it provides for improved access to licensed nurses and quality nursing services in times of great need. The Nurse Licensure Compact also facilitates enhanced discipline and information-sharing among NLC member states.
For a complete list of the Nurse Licensure Compact participating states, click here.

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