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January 20, 2019

Updated Map: Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) Jan. 2019

Updated Map: Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact  (eNLC) Jan. 2019

By Kathleen Colduvell RN, BSN, BA, CBC

Map Source: NCSBN.org

The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) is an agreement between states that allows nurses to have one license but the ability to practice in other states that are part of the agreement.

Originally developed and implemented in 2000, the NLC is getting a makeover. On January 19, 2018, the new and improved Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) will be implemented. 

The original NLC was first developed in 2000 and by 2015, it had grown to include 25 states. Goals were developed for every state to become a member of the NLC but there was resistance from some states regarding the requirements for licensure.

For example, the NLC did not require applicants to undergo state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks, whereas the new eNLC does.  

The eNLC will continue to increase access to health care, reduce overall costs to insurance companies, hospitals and individual patients, and support efficient and strong health care delivery.

The eNLC became effective on July 20, 2017 which allowed the Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administration to begin drafting appropriate rules and regulations for the new licensure. 

In January 2018, the new multistate licenses were issued to all nurses who applied to transition from the old license. New nurses getting their first license in an eNLC state will be able to practice in all the eNLC states without delay. This option is highly effective for travelers who do not wish to waste time between contracts. Furthermore, it helps reduce costs on application fees and license renewals. Unfortunately, California, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii are not currently part of the eNLC. These states are a few of the most desirable for travel nurses in the U.S.

Each eNLC state is responsible to notify nurses by mail of the changes to the license and the process to obtain an enhanced compact license. As more states continue to join the eNLC, additional nurses will have the option to streamline if they hold multiple licenses. 

What It Means For Nurses

So what does this mean for nurses? Nurses who currently have a NLC will need to ensure that the state of practice is still a part of the new eNLC. If it is, these nurses will be grandfathered into the new program and no additional action will be needed.

If the state of practice is no longer a part of the eNLC, nurses will need to obtain a single state license in order to continue practicing in the state. 

It is important to note that you must claim residency in an eNLC state in order to apply for a license. As a resident of a non-eNLC state you can apply for licensure by endorsement for the state but will only be issued a single state license instead of the compact license. 

Nurses are highly encouraged to sign up for the Nursys e-Notify system which delivers real time notifications about updates to the eNLC. If also will deliver information regarding expirations, renewals, and disciplinary actions. This service is free of charge and is a patient safety initiative that is supported by the U.S. Board of Nurses and NCSBN. More information can be found at www.nursys.com

In terms of continuing education (CE) requirements, a nurse holding an eNLC must meet the CE requirements for his or her own state. Each state, regardless of the eNLC, require specific CE courses and a number of hours. Renewal requirements are only related to the state that issued the eNLC, not the state in which the nurse practices.

Breakdown of the States

Twenty-four of the original NLC states have enacted the eNLC or have pending legislation. Four additional states have pending legislation waiting for approval before joining the eNLC. Two states, Kansas and Louisiana, will join the eNLC on July 1, 2019. 

Conversely, nurses in the eNLC will no longer be able to practice in these three states. They must obtain single state licenses in order to maintain practice privileges. 

Here’s a comprehensive listing of all states currently impacted by multi-state compact licensing.

Current eNLC States

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas (starting July 1, 2019)
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana (starting July 1, 2019)
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

States with Pending Legislation for the eNLC

  • Indiana – HB 1344 and SB 436
  • Massachusetts – HB 1188 
  • Michigan - HB 4938
  • New Jersey - AB 1597 and SB954

States without Legislation for the eNLC

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • New Hampshire 
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island (part of original NLC)
  • Washington

Requirements for eNLC States

The Commission has developed 11 uniform licensure requirements for a multistate license. 

  • Meets the requirements for licensure in their state of residency
  • Has graduated from a board-approved education program OR 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)
  • Has passed and English proficiency exam (applies to graduates of an international education program not taught English or if English is not the individual’s native language)
  • Has passed an NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN Examination or predecessor exam
  • Is eligible for or holds an active, unencumbered license 
  • Has submitted to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks
  • Has no state or federal felony convictions
  • Has no misdemeanor convictions related to the practice of nursing
  • Is not currently a participant in an alternative program
  • Is required to self-disclose current participation in an alternative program
  • Has a valid United States Social Security number.

An applicant must meet each of the aforementioned requirements in order to apply for the eNLC. These requirements are specific only to the eNLC and were developed in hopes that all states would eventually join the eNLC. The Board carefully reviewed each state's requirements for licensure and included specifics in order to increase eNLC participation. 

The NLC and eNLC are supported by many organizations throughout the country. A few of these include:

  • American Association of Colleges of Nurses
  • American Association of Neuroscience Nurses
  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers
  • Association for Vascular Access
  • Commission for Case Manager Certification
  • Emergency Nurses Association
  • National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
  • National League for Nursing
  • National Military Family Association
  • National Patient Safety Foundation
  • Oncology Nursing Society
  • U.S. Department of Commerce 

Unfortunately, some states and organizations do not support the eNLC. Interestingly, a study conducted in 2014 indicated 70% of nurses were in favor of their state joining the compact license. Major concerns from states unwilling to join the eNLC at this time are:

  • Disciplinary actions under the eNLC
  • Growth of Telemedicine and telenursing
  • Loss of state revenue for new single state licensees
  • Privacy of patients 

Stay Informed

If you reside in any of the states affected, you should stay updated on the latest developments as individual state boards begin the transition.

Here are a few helpful resources:

Official Website of the Nurse Licensure Compact

Twitter - @NurseCompact

Facebook - nurselicensurecompact

NCSBN website

Nursys e-Notify

Next Up: 2019 State-By-State Guide To RN Licensure

Nurse.org

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