This article is going to talk about the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC).
Specifically, we’re going to talk about:
- what it is
why you should care
- some benefits of the eNLC
Along with that, we’re going to talk about some disadvantages of the nurse licensure compact.
We’re going to break down what could be a complicated subject.
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What is the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC)
The eNLC is legislation that’s supposed to help your nursing license be more portable. Think about this after passing boards, your nursing license is state specific.
Whether you get a licensed practical nurse (LPN or LVN) or a registered nurse (RN) license, it doesn’t matter.
Minus a handful of exceptions such as federal facilities, you’re only allowed to work in the state you received your license.
For example, if you got a Texas nursing license, you couldn’t work in Oklahoma without first applying to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing.
It can be a hassle to apply to another state, pay their fees while keeping tabs on that state’s requirement for licensure.
If you didn’t know state licensure requirements can vary significantly from state to state.
If you had aspirations to be a travel nurse you can start seeing how this is a problem. This is where the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) comes into play.
Why You Should Care About the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC)
The enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) is a legislative bill that allows a group of states to “band together” and give nurses greater boundaries to practice without as much “red-tape.”
Nurses in the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) states can apply for a multi-state nurse license that is valid in any of the other states involved in the eNLC.
Meaning one multi-state license will give you the ability to practice in the compact member states.
As a nurse (especially a travel nurse) think about the freedom, it gives you.
eNLC vs NLC
Before I continue, I do want to mention a side note.
You might have heard about the original compact which was just called “nurse licensure compact (NLC).”
This bill is different. The original agreement was started in 2000.
It’s being replaced by the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) which is an updated version effective starting January 19, 2018.
There were various reasons for the switch.
One of the underlying causes was that there were provisions in the original compact that was there that some states didn’t like or weren’t there that some states wanted
Most of the states in the NLC are expected to adopt the eNLC. If you are eager to learn more about it, check out the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
What States are in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact
As of the time of this writing, there are currently 26 states within the eNLC.
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Positives of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact
Depending on what state you’re in when you apply for the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) you might have to fulfill extra/different requirements to qualify for the multi-state licensure.
If you’re a travel nurse, I’m sure you get why this is a big deal. If you’re not a travel nurse you might ask yourself, “Why should I care about a multi-state licensure?”.
Well here are 3 reasons why I believe you should care.
1. eNLC gives greater flexibility
Whether it’s getting married or family circumstances that necessitate a move the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) gives you the ability to speed up that process.
You never know when life might force you to move, or when opportunities arise. A multi-state license afforded by the eNLC opens those doors.
If the process turns out to be as seamless as it’s supposed to be having a multi-state license could become the unofficial standard.
2. eNLC allows new opportunities
Options are always important to have. Telemedicine and travel nursing are a few of the options that are made easier because of the eNLC.
According to the Huffington Post and Business Insider telemedicine has been growing in the US and for the foreseeable future, it is supposed to keep growing.
I believe telemedicine will continue to play more of an important role as shortages for healthcare providers continue to grow.
In addition, I’ve heard travel nurses voice frustration when they must acquire and maintain different state licenses.
I don’t know about you, but I like to simplify my life, and the eNLC simplifies this process.
For the travel nurse, it would be easier to jump from one assignment to the next without state license restrictions for the 26 enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) states.
3. eNLC = greater earning potential
The increased flexibility coupled with the increase in options and opportunities can only mean good things for your wallet. You will have more ways to leverage yourself and your skillset.
Disadvantages of Nurse Licensure Compact
Above we talked about how awesome the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) is and how it could positively impact your career.
All of that is true, but I think it is also worth mentioning that there are also potential pitfalls with that new legislature.
1. eNLC requires different state regulations and requirements
Each state has their own board of nursing.
While the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) starts bridging that gap, it still doesn’t change that there are some different scopes of practices for nurses that can vary from state to state.
As the compact is currently constructed, you’re legally held accountable to the practice laws of the state you’re practicing within, not necessarily your home state.
That begs the question if I have a multi-state license how much research should I do before working in a state I’ve never worked in before?
2. eNLC raises questions about what defines practice location?
There is some confusion when it comes to telemedicine.
If the patient and the nurse are in two different states than what is the practice location?
Depends on who you ask.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) and others believe it is the state where the nurse has their primary license while the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) believes it’s the state where the patient is.
3. eNLC vs. NLC
As mentioned previously before the eNLC there was the nurse licensure compact (NLC) which was started in 2000.
Most of the states from the original NLC have enacted legislation to adopt the new eNLC standards.
As of the time of this writing three states Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island have failed to do so.
This means that when the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) goes live on January 19, 2018 nurses with a multi-state NLC license from those three states can only practice within themselves and will be excluded from practicing in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) states.
While these aren’t necessarily deterrents from attaining a multi-state license it’s something nurses should keep in mind.
While the enhanced nurse licensure compact is a big step to improving nurse licensure portability we’re still a bit ways away from a truly portable nursing licensure.
Until that time comes, your multi-state licensure will give you access to the other compact states.
Do you see any other negatives with the enhanced nurse licensure compact?
Please share this article so we can get the word out and educate others.
National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (2011). What You Need to Know About Nursing Licensure and Boards of Nursing [Brochure]. Author. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from https://www.ncsbn.org/Nursing_Licensure.pdf
Hinz, C. (2016, August 9). Should A Nursing License Be Valid in All States? Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://dailynurse.com/should-a-nursing-license-be-valid-in-all-states/
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