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Compact Nursing Licenses – How Do They Work?

Blog/Compact Nursing Licenses – How Do They Work?

February 28, 2023

As a traveler, checking off each state and making sure you’re able to practice in the state your assignment is in is key. Many travelers take full advantage of a multistate license in order to travel freely throughout the US. With the 2023 addition of Ohio to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), only 14 states remain that are not part of the compact.

Now what is a compact license?

A compact license is an agreement between states that allows nurses to travel and work in other compact states for travel assignments or extended staff positions. This makes it significantly easier to work in other states without having to obtain additional state licenses.

Many seasoned travelers are already aware and taking full advantage of their compact licenses, but many new travelers are left wondering how it works and what steps are needed to be able to travel and work in other states. We’re here to provide some clarification on the process!

Primary State of Residence

The state you legally reside in is considered your Primary State of Residence (PSOR) and this is the state that will factor in if you are eligible to obtain a compact license. If your PSOR is compact already, then you’re ready to go! When you applied for that license initially, if you met all of the requirements, your license issued will already be compact. If your PSOR became a compact state after you were issued that license, you will need to apply to convert your single state license into a multistate license. Most lingering questions about applications, fees, converting etc. can be answered with your state’s board of nursing – but this document from the NCSBN can help lead some direction.

What states are currently in the compact?

The list of compact states is growing and there are currently 39 Jurisdictions included in the NLC. This list includes US states and territories. You can use this map provided by the NLC as a resource to see what states are included.

Many travelers aren’t aware that their US Nursing license includes being able to work in many sought after travel locations such as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. Though right now, of these areas, Guam has partial implementation to the compact and the Virgin Islands are pending implementation for to hopefully join soon.

NLC Map - Feb 2023

What if your state isn’t compact?

If your PSOR isn’t included in the list of compact states, no worries – applying for a single state license is still available to you. Many companies offer incentives for nurses to obtain licenses for non-compact states. Trustaff’s Licensure Incentive includes covering the cost of that new RN license as well as sending an extra perk of a free iPad or Apple Watch as an extra thank you for obtaining a new license. (We also offer this for our allied health friends too!)

There are a few states working to become compact states soon and we hope this list continues to grow to allow nurses to practice across many states and cross off all their travel adventure to-do’s.

For any questions, more information or if you would like to apply for a compact license, the NCSBN website is your one stop resource for any and all multistate license info.

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