Should Nurse Licenses Hold Across States?

As a previous travel nurse, I can speak to this issue as I currently have 3 nursing licenses that I have to renew every two years for a large sum of money.  They were so difficult and time-consuming to get that I hate to have them lapse in case I ever wanted to do travel nursing again.  Now that I am retired, I am faced with the decision to make my licenses inactive, or to keep them active in case I have to return to nursing due to money issues.

I originally started with an Oklahoma license (not a compact state), then went to work in California (also not a compact state).  Upon the end of my last assignment, I moved to Texas, so had to acquire a Texas license (a compact state).  I was so happy to get that compact license because it meant I could work in many other states without having to get another license.

My choice in this issue is that a nursing license is a nursing license and should be usable wherever you find yourself.  Just because I have 3 licenses doesn’t mean that I am any more or less qualified than any other nurse.  Nursing is nursing, no matter where you do it.

Please read this article and make your own decision about this issue.


Should Nurse Licenses Hold Across States?

Advocates say such a new approach to licensure is critical in an evolving health care world, but nurse unions disagree.

July 13, 2016

Motorists can cross state borders from California to Connecticut and the drivers’ licenses they got back home remain valid. But in most cases, a nurse can’t practice her profession in different states without multiple licenses.

A group of advocates wants that to change. Arizona just signed legislation to enter the Nurse Licensure Compact, joining Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming. A nurse in Arizona can travel to any state that’s part of the arrangement to practice medicine, without obtaining further licenses.

With the growing importance of telemedicine, as well as the need for nurses in underserved areas, momentum for a license that transcends borders seems to be building, says Jim Puente, director of the compact with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. “If you’re a nurse who is practicing telephonically with patients in the western part of the U.S. and that is your client base, you need to hold a license in every one of those states. That’s an onerous task, not to mention expensive,” Puente says. “We believe a nurse is a nurse from state to state, and that a multistate license will eliminate the redundancy.”

A simpler compact was first implemented in 2000, eventually swelling to 25 states. However, growth stagnated in 2010, Puente says, because the original excluded background checks. With their inclusion this time around, Puente hopes to quickly reach, and surpass, the original 25. The old compact will stay in effect, meanwhile, until either the end of 2018, or when the new one reaches 26 states.

Some have expressed concern about the move toward multistate licensure. Local governments are hesitant to lose revenue from licensing fees, while nurse unions worry about inconsistent state licensure regulations. They’re also afraid that if they go on strike in one state, nurses from another state could be brought in to replace them.

But other nurse groups support breaking down state boundaries. The American Organization of Nursing Executives first voiced its approval for the idea in 2002, and continues to support it, says Jo Ann Webb, vice president for federal relations and policy. Professions such as physicians, psychologists and dietitians are taking notice, and considering similar compacts.

“There is a nursing shortage, and you complicate that with the fact that somebody wants to go to work, and yet they have to go through all this rigmarole,” Webb says. “Figuring there are a lot of jobs available, they might take something in retail, as opposed to nursing, if it’s too complicated and expensive.”

Leaders in states with pending legislation are eager to join, too. Governors in Missouri and New Hampshire were poised to sign newly passed legislation in June, making those the ninth and 10th states to join the compact. Minnesota is also contemplating…(read more here)

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