It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that many remote employers prefer to hire nurses with compact nursing licenses.
Compact nursing states allow nurses to practice across state lines using a single multistate license. Currently, there are 39 states and territories that participate in the nursing compact.
Wondering what the big deal is with multistate nursing licenses and how it could help you land a remote nursing job? Read on to find out.
What is a compact Nursing state?
A compact nursing state is a state that has enacted the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). A nurse with a compact nursing license may practice in their home state as well as other states that are members of the compact. Each state independently chooses whether or not to join the eNLC.
Once a state joins the compact, nurses in that home state can acquire multistate licensure privileges to practice in other member states.
Which states are part of the compact?
As of 2023, nearly 40 states and territories are part of the eNLC. Six more have proposed legislation, and two others have passed legislation but have not yet implemented the compact.
Legislation is constantly changing, so it’s essential to check the current status of the state where you intend to practice.
States that are part of the nursing compact
- Guam (currently partial implementation, but full implementation is pending)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Ohio (NEW 1/1/2023!)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
States with pending eNLC legislation
- New York
States that have enacted the eNLC but not implemented
- The Virgin Islands
States with no pending legislation
- District of Columbia
Compact nursing licenses and remote nursing
Compact nursing licenses are especially useful for remote nursing jobs.
Why is it helpful to have a compact license as a remote nurse?
Having a compact nursing license makes it easier for to practice in other states without obtaining a separate nursing license, which can be a timely and expensive process.
A multistate compact license broadens your job search and makes working with patients around the United States easier. If you are eligible for a compact nursing license, you should obtain it.
Many online and remote nursing jobs prefer to hire nurses with a compact license, particularly for telehealth or case management jobs. Multistate licenses allow their employees to work with patients around the country.
Can LPNs/LVNs get compact licenses?
Yes, licensed practice nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are both eligible for compact nursing licenses.
However, advanced practice nurses (APRNs) are licensed through a different mechanism and may not practice as an APRN outside of their home state under the current eNLC.
What if I don’t live in a compact state?
Only nurses whose primary residence is in a compact state may apply for a multistate nursing license.
You may apply for a license by endorsement in a compact state, but the license will be limited to that state. You may apply for as many single-state licenses as you like.
There are still options for nurses who live in non-compact states but wish to practice remotely. Target your job search for roles that require “license in state of residence” or “license in any state.” In addition, look for any job that states “license specific to [your state of residence].”
Which nurse practice act (NPA) must I follow?
It is the nurse’s responsibility to understand and follow the nurse practice act for the state(s) where they are practicing. These differ from state to state, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the NPA where you intend to practice.
Have questions about remote work and compact nursing licenses? Check out our resources for answers to all your burning questions.
How to find out if you have a multistate license
It’s simple (and free) to find out if you have a compact nursing license.
Visit Nursys to verify your current license and to confirm whether your license is single-state or compact. Click on “Quick Confirm,” enter your full name and state of licensure, and the system will generate a report with information about your license.
For example, I have a single-state license in Massachusetts (which is not currently part of the eNLC) and a multistate license in Virginia.
On the same page, there’s a button you can click titled “Where can the nurse practice as an RN/LPN?” This brings up a map of everywhere you are licensed to practice within the United States.
Here’s an example of my map in Nursys:
Another way to confirm your license status is to go to your state board of nursing website and find the link to verify your license status.
How to upgrade your license if you live in a compact state
To obtain a multistate compact nursing license, go to your state board of nursing website and fill out an application. Depending on your state of residence, there may be an option to apply for “eNLC Upgrade” or “apply for a multistate license.”
A nurse may only hold a license from one compact state at a time.
If a nurse changes their residence from one compact state to another compact state, the nurse must apply for a new compact nursing license by endorsement in their new home state. This inactivates their previous compact nursing license.
To obtain a compact nursing license, a nurse must:
- Meet their home state licensure qualifications
- Graduate from a board of nurse-approved nursing education program
- Pass the NCLEX-RN
- Have no active disciplinary measures on their license
- Submit to a criminal background check
- Have no prior state or federal felony convictions
- Have a valid U.S. social security number
Listing your multistate license on your resume
When looking for remote jobs, you should list your multistate nursing license on your resume and it’s easy to do. Here’s an example of what this might look like:
Registered Nurse (RN), Texas Compact License, #1234567, Expires 02/2025
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Florida Compact License, #1234567, Expires 02/2025
One of the biggest mistakes that many nurses make is failing to list their compact nursing license on their resume.
Many employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) that scans resumes for certain keywords. If a compact license is listed as a job requirement but is not listed on your resume, you may be rejected even if you are otherwise fully qualified.
Not sure what else you need to highlight on your resume to attract remote nurse employers? Click here for the Nurse Fern Resume Template.
Compact nursing states for the remote nurse
If you’re battling bedside overwhelm, you have options.
Compact nursing states make it easier than ever for nurses to find meaningful, well-paid remote work from the comfort of their home.
Check out the Nurse Fern job board to find an opportunity that matches your skills and professional goals.