Is it time for a national nursing license?

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Missouri recently joined the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), an interstate coalition that makes it easier for nurses to practice in multiple states. The twenty-four states involved in the compact operate under a mutual recognition model; a nurse licensed in one NLC state is able to practice in another NLC state without obtaining another license. Previously, nurses needed to be licensed in every state in which they practiced.

The NLC was established in 2000 and currently includes Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

While most nurses applaud the NLC, some wonder if the time has come to establish a national nursing license, one that would be valid in all 50 states. Proponents of the idea cite ease of practice and uniform expectations. Detractors argue that a national nursing license would require a national nurse practice act, denying states the opportunity to establish standards of practice.

What do you think? Has the time come for a national nursing license? Or is the interstate compact the way to go?

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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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2 Responses to Is it time for a national nursing license?

  1. Amen! It is really ridiculous that we are expected to be treated like a common criminal with required fingerprints, background checks and lengthy, non-standard applications to fill out every time we do a nursing assignment in a different place, not to mention the exorbitant cost to nurses and taxpayers for the unnecessary bureaucracy. I earned my degree, passed my NCLEX, have my experience, have no complaints and deserve to work wherever I wish in my country without such interrogation and expense.

  2. Granny RN

    We have ONE national PassPort, ONE drivers’ license which is recognized in ALL 50 states, and ONE Social Security card. It is long past time for ONE United States Nursing License! We all take the SAME NCLEX exam but have 50 Separate State Boards with which to contend. No wonder nursing is still divided instead of being the highly respected profession that MDs enjoy!