Troubled nurses cross state boundaries


The multi-state Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) make it easier for troubled nurses to work in other states, warns Propublica and USA Today.
While the compact is designed to address the nursing shortage and ease barriers to practice, some wonder if a multi-state license inadvertently allows impaired or incompetent nurses to continue practicing nursing. According to Propublica and USA Today, four dozen nurses who were barred from practice in a compact state maintained a clean nursing license in their home state — enabling them to work — for a number of months.

Under the compact, nurses who are licensed in a compact state are legally free to work in any compact state. If a disciplinary issue arises, it is handled in the state in which the issue occurred. The incident is also reported to the nurse’s home state. Problems may arise, however, when there’s a delay between the incident and notification. A coordinated licensure information system, Nursys (R), helps disseminate important disciplinary information.

What do you think? Do you think the multi-state nursing compact inadvertently puts patients at risk? Or do you think the Propublica/USA Today article incited a lot of unnecessary worry?


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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