Enhanced nurse licensure compact makes it easier for nurses to practice in other states via telehealth

A physician in scrubs in a hospital hallway
It just got easier for nurses in some states to practice in other states and via telemedicine. (Getty/NanoStockk)

A new Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), which will make it easier for nurses to practice in other states and via telemedicine, was implemented late last week.

The enhanced compact is effective in 29 member states, allowing nurses with eNLC multistate licenses to begin practicing in any of those states without the need for an additional license, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The eNLC was implemented January 19.

Nurses who live in a state that adopted the original Nurse Licensure Compact—an interstate agreement that allows nurses to practice in multiple states with one license— and that also enacted the enhanced compact, are “grandfathered’ into the eNLC if they held a multistate license on July 20, 2017, the council said. Nurses who live in Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming who want to obtain a multistate license need to complete the compact license application on their state board of nursing website, the group said.

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“This opens a new and exciting era for nursing licensure,” said Sue Tedford, the chair of the Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators, and executive director of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. “The eNLC not only benefits nurses with increased mobility to practice, it also increases access to care for patients. Additionally, new provisions in the eNLC enhance patient safety.”

In a survey released earlier this year, nearly 7 in 10 nurses said that a national licensing system for nurses would be more helpful to their careers than the state-by-state system.

The eNLC allows registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses to have one multistate license that allows them to practice in person or via telehealth in both their home state and other eNLC states. It does not apply to advanced practice nurses. Nurses in the 29 member states meet the same licensing standards, which now includes a federal and state criminal background check for all applicants for multistate licensure, the group said.

Under the enhanced process, nurses convicted of a felony are restricted from acquiring a multistate license, according to the American Nurses Association.

Critics had said that requirements that nurses be licensed in every state they want to work create barriers to using new forms of healthcare, including telemedicine.

States’ governors must sign legislation to participate in the eNLC after being approved by the state legislature.

Physicians who want to practice in multiple states have a similar process. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact offers a streamlined process for medical licensure. Last spring, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission officially began accepting applications from qualified doctors who want to obtain multiple licenses from participating states.

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