Nursing Compact States in 2022


Welcome to Ventura MedStaff – your reliable medical staffing agency. If you are thinking of becoming a travel nurse, but don’t want to deal with the exhausting paperwork involved in obtaining licenses for different states, you might be in luck. The Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact, a multi-state agreement enabling nurses to work in participating states, exists and is ever expanding.

Here’s the low-down on the eNLC and its predecessor the NLC.

The History of the NLC

Traveling nurses across the U.S. face one problem consistently – having to apply for nursing licenses for every state they want to work in. At least that used to be the case until a group of states decided to get rid of this requirement by signing the original nursing licensure compact in 2002. However, this compact was not particularly effective (only 3 states signed on), so a revised compact was devised and signed in 2008. Multiple states signed on and the system was effective, but still lacking in several respects.

The final iteration of the licensure compact was developed in 2018 – the enhanced nursing licensure compact. This compact is currently still in effect and has resolved multiple issues that previous versions did not address or did not resolve fully.

What Is the eNLC?

To keep it simple, the eNLC,or enhanced nursing licensure compact, is an agreement between participating states which enables registered nurses who hold a valid license in any of the states that are a part of the program to practice medicine in any other member state.

While previously a nurse would have to apply for additional licenses in each state, a single compact license enables them to work in any state recognizing the compact.

At the moment, participation in the compact is available to any state or territory of the USA, but not all states have signed off on its application. There are 35 member states and territories at the moment:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

These states all have a level of implementation that enables the majority of practitioners to apply for a compact license and move freely and work in different states. Aside from these, there are a few more administrations that have expressed their willingness to join the compact, but haven’t yet implemented it fully.

Ohio (even though they had major complaints about the original compact) are now in the process of joining the amended compact enabling their traveling nurses to access a much broader pool of potential jobs easily and conveniently, as well as allowing nurses from all over the U.S. to come to Ohio and practice medicine without the extra burden of applying for a license in Ohio. The law in Ohio has been passed, with the implementation date set for the first day of 2023. Call us and we will find you an amazing assignment in Ohio.

Pennsylvania is another holdout state that ended up passing the law to join the eNLC, but the implementation date has not yet been set by the state legislature. We will update this page as soon as we learn the exact date when Pennsylvania joins the growing family of compact states.

Finally, Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory has also passed the law with no exact date set for implementation. So, if you are keen on visiting Virgin Islands, stay in touch with us.

H-2 States Pending eNLC Legislation

While these states have all committed to becoming members of the eNLC and allow traveling nurses and other medical practitioners easier access to new job markets, there are several more states that are in different stages of interest in joining the compact, or have their nursing boards campaigning actively to join the compact. Here is the latest list:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

Similarly to Ohio, the Alaska Nurse Association strongly opposes joining the compact citing some very important and poignant questions about the agreement. The organization claims that the loss of sovereignty and self-determination is not worth the extra freedoms it would otherwise gain, but the vast majority of practicing nurses in the state are firmly for the project. In fact, 89% of all nurses in a survey have stated that they are in favor of it, while another 87% of nurses expressed an interest in obtaining such a license if it were available.

Why the eNLC Is Important to Nurses

This compact has enabled RNs from across the U.S. to participate and work in a much broader market. In fact, with this license, a nurse could find work in any of the participating states without having to apply for a nursing license in a host state. For many states, nurse mobility is crucial, especially for those who struggle to fill vital roles in their hospital systems. And with the pandemic of Covid-19, there are a lot of facilities that have found themselves with this problem.

However, this agreement has its limits, which should not be understated. The multi-state license is only valid in states that participate in the program, and some of the most lucrative jobs exist in states where the compact has yet to be enacted, such as Alaska, California, and New York – very popular destinations for traveling nurses, as well as those looking for a permanent nursing job.

Additionally, the compact is only applicable to RNs and LPNs, which means you may need to apply separately for each state’s medical license if you have any advanced degrees in nursing. As of today, the APRN Compact is still in its infancy – it has been enacted in North Dakota and is pending legislation in Delaware. This legislation has not yet been adopted by other states and territories.


How Does the eNLC Impact Traveling Nurses

Perhaps the biggest benefactors from this compact agreement are travel nurses. Individuals who travel from short-term contract to short-term contract have to think about a lot of things, from housing to different hospital policies in each new medical facility they visit. If traveling outside their primary residence state, these nurses would have to apply to each state individually.

Here at Ventura MedStaff, we strongly encourage all of our travelers, especially those who intend to engage in travel nursing for an extended period of time to apply for this license. Not only does it make their preparation easier, it also eases a lot of red tape that is involved in preparing the contracts and pairing travelers with their desired medical facility.

If you are ready to start your adventure, or if you need more information about the eNLC or anything else travel nurse-related, reach out to us, and one of our helpful and knowledgeable staff will help you with any questions you have. Welcome to the Ventura MedStaff family.