The Nurse Licensure Compact Arrives in Ohio

Nurse licensure compact

The start of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) almost 25 years ago established a mechanism of nursing licensure that supported both improved access to care through an enhanced nursing workforce and a convenient advantage for professional nurses. Under the NLC agreement, a nurse whose primary residence is in an NLC participating state is allowed to work in any NLC state while maintaining a single nursing license.

This is an immense advantage, especially when compared to licenses from non-NLC participating states. Nurses residing in a non-NLC state are required to apply for and maintain their nursing license for each individual state they wish to work in. That means more licenses to keep track of, more renewal requirements to satisfy, and higher associated costs.

If you haven’t already checked your state’s status, finding out if you live in a compact state is certainly something to look into. The list of participating states continues to expand, so if you haven’t checked in a while, you might be in luck. States like Vermont and Ohio are among the most recent additions.

Do You Live in A Nurse Licensure Compact State?

The Nurse Licensure Compact now includes 39 states across the nation. A complete list of NLC participating states can be easily found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website. Viewing that list will tell you exactly what states are included in the compact as well as the date they joined.

Unfortunately, if your home state isn’t on the list of NLC participating states, you’re not eligible to apply for compact licensure. Similarly, if you move from a compact state to a non-compact state, you will have to apply for licensure in that new state the old-fashioned way.

If you’re feeling a little disappointed because your state isn’t on the list, just know that there still may be something in the works. The same NCSBN website that maintains the list of active states also offers a map of the United States identifying which states are working towards becoming a member of the NLC.

What the NLC Means for Ohio Nurses

If you’re a nurse living in Ohio—congratulations. As of January 2023, Ohio is the most recent state to have joined the NLC. This means nurses in Ohio are now able to apply for compact licensure, greatly expanding their nursing privileges into 38 other states. This also means that nurses from other states holding a compact license are now able to practice as registered professional nurses in Ohio.

The benefits of compact licensure can positively impact the workforce and the patients they serve. From the nursing perspective, having single licensure for multiple states eliminates the often cumbersome and costly process of maintaining individual state licenses. It also supports a more fluid transition for nurses from one participating state to another in cases such as travel nursing or permanent relocation. 

Patients win through the nurse licensure compact by benefiting from a more robust and flexible nursing workforce. Historic ebbs and flows related to healthcare staffing create challenges in providing patient care. These challenges can be mitigated by a much greater pool of professionals that can now more easily satisfy the staffing demands as a network of caregivers.

The NLC benefit to patient populations can also build on the recent explosion in services like telemedicine. Telemedicine offers an almost limitless opportunity to reach patients as technology knows no state boundary. Telemedicine is only further supported by nurses being able to practice in many states under the same license. Knowing the critical elements driving telemedicine while appreciating the regulatory requirements as described in Introduction to Telehealth and Telemedicine offers great insight into this growing resource.

As Ohio kicks off its participation in the NLC, keep in mind that there’s no obligation for you as an individual to participate. Nurses in Ohio are fully entitled to renew only their single-state license if they do not wish to participate in the nurse licensure compact.

When you use your multi-state license in another compact state, you are required to follow the nurse practice act of that state, but only need to maintain licensure requirements of your primary state of residence. It is important to be mindful of the differences in nurse practice acts across states, including any continuing education that may help you practice in accordance with those state’s laws. 

Of course, even though your license will be valid across compact states, it’s important to remain up-to-date with continuing education requirements regardless of what state you’re based in. 

Ohio, for example, requires 24 contact hours of continuing education to be completed for the renewal every 2 years. As part of those hours, RNs and LPNs are required to take 1 hour in Category A, Ohio Rule and Law training

The completion of continuing education hours through resources like an Unlimited Nursing CEU Subscription offered by Premiere Education is a great—and very convenient—option. The accredited courses are designed by healthcare professionals and it’s easy to find a few spare moments during the day to fulfill continuing education requirements at your own pace online.

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