Nursing Licensure Compact


The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) is an agreement between certain US States that allows qualified nurses to have one multi state nursing license to practice in all approved States.  Sometimes industry insiders refer to the Nursing Licensure Compact as the ‘Compact License’ or ‘Nursing Compact’ for short.  It is like an open passport that allows Registered Nurses (RNs) as well as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to practice in other approved US States.  These approved States are called “Nursing Compact States” and today there are 33 States that are part of the NLC.

The Nurse Compact has been around for over fifteen years.  The mission of the Nursing Licensure Compact is to advance public protection and access to care through mutual recognition of one state-based license that is enforced locally and recognized nationally. In short, the Nurse Licensure Compact is a great development for all nurses as well as the general public.

Advantages of the Compact License

The advantage of the NLC Nursing is immediately clear.

First, nurses have immediate flexibility in being able to work and move freely in the Nursing Compact States.  Therefore, the more States that have approved the Compact License legislation, the better.  This opens more opportunities and options for nurses.

Second, for the general public, the Nurse Licensure Compact allows all nurses to respond quickly in events of natural emergencies like earthquakes, floods and fires.  Imagine having a shortage of healthcare workers due to paperwork bureaucracy for nurses.

Third, nurses with the multi state nursing license can practice via telenursing.  In addition, this also applies to nurse faculty as well.  This advantage became especially apparent during 2020 in the COVID-19 pandemic.  During this time, nurse faculty were able to teach via teleconferencing within the Nursing Compact States network.  Likewise, the NLC Nursing was able to organize quickly emergency licensing waivers during the state of emergency.

Fourth, the Nurse Compact is a very cost-efficient solution.  Nurses do not pay application, the renewal and administrative fees for multiple licenses across numerous states.

Disadvantages of the Compact License

In general, there are very few disadvantages to the Compact License.  Even nurses that do not meet the multi state nursing license requirements are permitted to receive single-state licenses.  Therefore, there’s little downside.  There are several reasons why not all 50 US states have approved the Nurse Licensure Compact.

First, there are disagreements in terms of standards in addition to individual Board of Nursing at different states on disputes over jurisdiction.  This especially applies to disciplinary actions.

Second, there is concern on loss of revenue due to new licenses, renewals, and application fees of nurses within their State.

Third, people argue that there is less privacy for patients under the Nursing Compact States with nurses travelling around.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of politics with so many different stakeholders and State revenue involved with the Nursing Compact.

Apply for Compact Nursing License

To apply for the Compact Nursing License, check out the detailed eight requirements as found on our Multi-State Nursing License page.  The application is not difficult.  Once you meet the requirements, you can apply directly on your residence State Board of Nursing page.

Compact License Conclusion

In conclusion, healthcare is about serving the needs of patients and should not be constricted by individual State borders.  The Nurse Compact helps to increase access to affordable healthcare, protects patient safety and reduces costs for nurses and State Board of Nursing.  Please check out our Multi-State Nursing License page to see how you can apply for the Compact Nursing License.  Also check out RN Compact States, LPN Compact States to see which states your nursing specialty qualifies in the Nursing Licensure Compact.

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