Many nurses are asking whether they can work in any state. For example, a nurse who lives in New York City wants to know if she can move to California and still be employed as a nurse. The answer is yes; no restrictions prevent an RN from working anywhere within the United States. Nurses have the license to practice in any state.
Can Nurses Work In Any State?
Nurses who want to work in multiple states will obtain a license through the Nurse Licensure Compact agreement. This Compact makes it easier for nurses from other states to obtain licenses in multiple states. However, nurses should know that obtaining a license from another state does not automatically mean practicing in all 50 states.
It is possible for there to be multiple, different licensing requirements in different states. Nurses are responsible for checking with the board of nursing to see if they have a current license and what state laws they must follow.
What is a Nurse Licensure Compact?
A nurse licensing Compact is an agreement that enables registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs) to have one multi-state license that they can use to practice. The Compact has been approved by state legislatures in 23 states but is pending in Massachusetts, New York, and Wisconsin.
What are the benefits of a Nurse Licensure Compact?
The Compact enables nurses to have one license to practice across multiple states. It also makes it easier for hospitals to recruit nurses by recruiting from a multi-state pool of applicants.
It does not place any limits on which employers or patients an RN may work for, but it does have restrictions on the nurse’s practice. It requires nurses to meet all state nursing requirements in each state where they want to practice except for nurse eligibility requirements.
However, the Compact does not prevent any state boards of nursing from setting up rules which govern their nurses. It also does not weaken state authority to regulate nurse licensure and practice.
What states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact?
The following states are currently part of the Nurse Licensure Compact: Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
How do I become a nurse in a state that is not my home state?
Suppose you want to practice nursing in any participating state under the Nurse Licensure Compact agreement. In that case, your employer must contact the board of nursing in the state where you want to work to verify that your license is valid. After your employer receives verification of the validity of your license, they will be able to hire you immediately.
What are the consequences of working without a license in a state where you are not licensed?
Nurses who practice without a license in another state can be prosecuted under the laws of that state, and they risk having their nursing licenses revoked in their home states. Additionally, disciplinary actions may be taken against an individual’s RN license by their board of nursing.
Which Nursing Boards are affected by the Nurse Licensure Compact?
An RN or LPN/VN can practice as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse in any state that is part of the Compact if they have the current license in their home state. If they want to work in a state that is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, then they need to apply for licensure in that state.
Can nurses work in more than one state at a time?
Yes, nurses can have multiple licenses to work in different states simultaneously. Nurses must check with the board for each specific state regarding how many licenses they can have. They should not sign any document which requires them to give up their license.
How do I know if my nursing license is valid in other states?
Nurses are responsible for knowing if their license is valid in other states. The board of nursing website will indicate which state the nurse is currently licensed to practice in. If you need to find out if your license is current, you should contact the board of nursing where you are registered to practice.
What should I do if another state’s board of nursing contacts me about working without a license?
If you receive notification that another state’s board of nursing is trying to contact you, you should immediately contact the board and let them know that you are now practicing in another state. If you do not inform the boards, it could lead to an investigation.
Are there other options for nurses who want to travel between states?
Nurses may want to consider moving to a state not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact if they would rather work in multiple states. These include Hawaii, Maine, and New Mexico. Nurses who decide to move to these non-compact states will not easily apply for licenses in other states. The process will take longer, and they will need to provide more information to get licensure.
Is there any other way to work between states without joining the Compact?
If you would like to work in multiple states, you could consider obtaining a multi-state license instead of joining the Compact. These licenses are not valid in all states. Nurses can practice in their home state until they apply for licensure in another state, which is compulsory if they want to work there. An individual’s RN license is not valid until activated in the new state.
What information will I need to provide to get licensure in another state?
You will be required to provide your nursing license, education, and work experience when you apply for a license with a different board of nursing. Depending on your previous licenses and where and how they were earned, additional documentation may be needed. You can find this information on the boards of nursing website.
Can I get a temporary license?
No, it is impossible to obtain a temporary license in another state. Nurses will need to apply for licensure and wait until they receive their permanent RN or LPN/VN licenses before practicing in that state.