There are now twenty-seven compact states who have signed the Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC) into law as of July of 2017. This year on January 19th, those twenty-seven states will switch over to what is known as the Enhanced Compact, with 5 more states to join them (pending legislation). This is applicable to the travel nursing profession, as nurses who live in compact states will be able to take assignments without having to apply for different state licensure.
As a traveling nurse, getting a new state license every thirteen weeks can be quite expensive. Each state board will ask for more money to do background checks and license verification processes. If a traveler works in 4 different states and applies for a license in each, it can easily cost him or her over $1,000 by the time they become licensed. However, by being a resident of a compact state, getting a new license for every state is much simpler and cheaper process.
We have had the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) since 1999, but with the new Enhanced License Compact (eNLC) there are a few changes. The biggest change will be the criminal background check status. In the new system, you must provide federal and state fingerprint criminal background checks to remain on file at either initial licensure application or licensure application through endorsement. This allows for other states to join the eNLC as the verification process is universal.
Not all states are members of the eNLC, which has complicated repercussions. There are 4 states that are governed by the original NLC as they have not joined the eNLC: New Mexico, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island. At least three out of the four remaining states have pending legislation for 2018 to join the eNLC. The states that do NOT join the compact states are costing traveling healthcare workers an average of $350 per state to work in. If you change states every thirteen weeks, this can add up to over $1,000 per year. Please note that under the 2018 tax reform you can no longer take a tax deduction on the nursing license fee.
How does this eNLC affect me, the travel nurse?
If you are a nurse in one of the four states listed above that have not joined the eNLC but are still compact states, your “multi-state” license will only be valid in those four states as of January 19, 2018. If you are not a resident of a compact state, you will still need to purchase a license in a compact state. If you live in a “regular” compact state and your state is going compact (like Oklahoma), then you will need to follow up with the Oklahoma BON and follow the steps for registering as a resident nurse. If you already live in a compact state that has been admitted to the eNLC, then you should have to do nothing, expect a letter in the mail stating that your “Oklahoma” license has been discontinued because of your Resident Idaho Compact.” (example in my case). Can you use a relative’s address? Yes & No… where were you living before you started traveling? If you lived at home and still have all your “legal” documents sent there, then you should be okay. If not, then you need to work in that state to establish residency. Usually residency is 6-months in any location. Check the state regulations for specifics on your state. Yes, there is a difference between a legal residence and a tax home, please refer to TravelTax.com for further information! The most important thing… When in doubt, call the board of nursing!!!
By knowing which changes the eNLC will affect you individually, the traveling nurse will be able to navigate the new waters of the compact licensure. Hopefully, the eNLC gains more state members enabling the traveling nurse to fly from state to state without going through red tape and saving more money each assignment!
Empower yourself with knowledge and the power of adventure that the Enhanced Nursing License Compact brings to travel nurses in 2018. Sign up for your next assignment through Wanderly, a traveling nurse resource where you can compare packages, remain anonymous when in communication with recruiters, and job hunt from anywhere at any time on any device.
Kay Slane, RN, BS, CGM has been a nurse for over 25 years and a traveler for 14 years. She is the author of the number one travel nursing book on Amazon, “Highway Hypodermics: Travel Nursing 2017.” Check out her website that provides the roadmap for today’s traveling nurse: www.highwayhypodermics.com.