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10 Pros and Cons of Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact


Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Being a nurse is a tough job, but it is made more challenging by the bureaucratic red tape that surrounds a nurse’s license to practice from state to state. If you are a registered nurse in one state and you are looking for employment in another state, then this article is definitely for you. Have you ever heard of the enhanced nurse compact license? Do you know what are the pros and cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact? There are many talks these days about the enhanced nurse licensure compact (eNLC) and how it will affect nurses who move from one state to another, but what exactly does it mean? Below you will find the top 10 pros and cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact. Being armed with this information will ensure that you are equipped with the knowledge to decide if this is the type of nursing license you should pursue.


What is the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact?


The enhanced nurse licensure compact is a licensure model that will allow a nurse to have a multistate license. It is quite different from a traditional nurse license in that a nurse is able to practice within any state that participates in the enhanced nurse licensure compact without having to obtain a traditional license for that state. The basic idea of the enhanced nurse licensure compact is quite simple: the state you have your original license is in must be a compact state, then for any additional license that you need from another compact state will automatically be recognized.


How to Obtain an Enhanced Nurse Compact License?


In order to obtain an enhanced nurse compact license, you must meet specific qualifications. To obtain an enhanced license, the nurse must hold a valid and unencumbered RN license in her original compact state of residence, and she must have actively practiced as a registered nurse for at least two (2) of the five (5) years immediately preceding application. In addition to these requirements, if the nurse has been out-of-state for more than two (2) years, she must complete an RN refresher course approved by her original compact state. Other requirements that must be met include being fingerprinted by a law enforcement agency, passing a criminal background check, completing the compact nursing application, and paying the appropriate fee.


TOP CONS OF ENHANCED NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT

(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact.)

1. Enhanced nurse licensure compact is not recognized by all states.

One of the cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that it is not recognized by every state. The state you are currently licensed in must become a member of the compact before recognizing licenses from other compact states. If you are currently licensed in a state that is not a member of the compact, well, then your license will not be recognized by the compact. This will impede you from working in other states without obtaining multiple licenses. So, what was the point in getting the enhanced nurse licensure compact then?

2. Your traditional license will not be recognized by the compact.

One of the top disadvantages of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that only an enhanced compact license is eligible for automatic recognition by other states within the compact. Traditional licenses from the state are not part of the agreement and thus would require additional steps to practice in another compact state besides obtaining a traditional license for every state you want to work in. That sounds like a lot of work.

3. You will have to abide by different state regulations and requirements.

One of the biggest cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that although you hold a license where you are able to practice in multiple states, you are still required to abide by each state’s regulations and requirements. You will have to consider if being licensed to practice in multiple states is worth all the state regulations and requirements you will have to be familiar with. I hope you do not mix them up.

4. Where is your practice location?

When you are practicing under the enhanced nurse licensure compact, one big question always comes up is where is your practice location? The American Nurses Association (ANA) feels that it is the state where the nurse has their primary license. In contrast, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) feels it is the state that the nurse is practicing in. This can become highly confusing regarding rules, regulations, and disciplinary action.

5. You will have to be up to date with the scope of practice of multiple states.

One of the most significant disadvantages of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that you will have to be knowledgeable of multiple states' scope of practice for your role in the state that you will be working in. That is a lot of information to have to know.

6. Not all states participate in the enhanced nurse licensure compact.

One of the issues with the enhanced nurse licensure compact is the lack of acceptance in every state. Some states have not adopted the compact because they feel that there are still gaps that remain especially concerning criminal background checks. This means that if you hold a compact nursing license and want to work in a state that does not participate in the compact, you do not have the option of working there. You would need to apply for that state's license. So, I guess the enhanced nurse compact license will not open as many doors as you think.

7. Some employers may not accept your enhanced nurse compact license.

Although a state may participate in the enhanced nurse licensure compact, it does not mean that an employer will accept this type of license. One of the biggest disadvantages of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that employers still only recognize the traditional license. This can lead to numerous problems when you want to work in an institution that does not accept your credentials.

8. Which state board of nursing will investigate if an issue arises

If you hold an enhanced nurse compact license and work and live in two different states, which state is responsible for investigating claims against you that may warrant disciplinary actions? There is no default state for a nurse who holds an enhanced nurse compact license when it comes to disciplinary actions. This can become difficult to navigate.

9. Not everyone will be grandfathered in

One of the cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact you will need to think about is that not everyone will be grandfathered in. Prior to the launch of the enhanced nurse licensure compact, there was a traditional nurse compact license. When the traditional nurse compact license was switched to the enhanced nurse compact license, not everyone was grandfathered into the requirements of this new compact license. Those who are grandfathered in are automatically entitled to the new requirements. Still, if you are not grandfathered in, you will need to meet the standard licensure requirements. A nurse who holds an enhanced nurse compact license before July 20, 2017, effective date will be grandfathered into the enhanced nurse licensure compact. So, if you have been licensed after or are planning on obtaining your enhanced nurse licensure compact, you must meet the new requirements.


TOP PROS OF THE ENHANCED NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT

(The following are the top 10 advantages of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact.)

1. You will have flexibility.

One of the advantages of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that it gives nurses more flexibility in their practice. Nurses who have an enhanced compact license can practice in any member state without applying for a new license. This means that if you want to change jobs and move out of state, you will not need to worry about spending time and money applying for a new license.

2. You can travel

If you like to travel and need to work at the same time, one of the pros of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that it will enable you to do both of these. The enhanced nurse compact license is the way to go! It allows you to practice in states that are part of the compact during your trip without worrying about restrictions, requirements, or extra paperwork. It can make your life and travel so much more convenient.

3. You can have new experiences.

One of the pros of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that it will allow for new experiences. It will enable you to work in different nursing disciplines such as pediatrics or post-anesthesia care where you will be able to learn new skills. Down the road, all of these new experiences that you have had will make you more marketable. You will then be able to handpick your dream job.

4. You could potentially make more money.

One of the top pros of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that you will have the potential to make more money than without one. For example, you may live in one state in the compact that pays one rate for nurses, but the neighboring state also in the compact pays a much higher rate. The enhanced nurse compact license will allow you to go after that higher salary.

5. The enhanced nurse licensure compact will open the door for telemedicine to you

Telemedicine has been utilized extensively in the past decade. Suppose you are a nurse transitioning from a traditional setting to a telemedicine position, in that case, it is essential to understand what an enhanced nurse licensure compact is and how it will benefit your job search. Many telemedicine jobs will require that you hold an enhanced nurse compact license to be considered for a position. It allows for telemedicine to occur across state borders.

6. You can save money on license applications.

One of the biggest advantages of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that you will be able to save money with one license instead of having to pay for each state's individual application fee and license renewal fee. Holding all different state's licenses can definitely make a dent in your wallet.

7. You can save time in obtaining multiple licenses.

The enhanced nurse licensure compact will save you a great deal of time getting licensed to practice in various states. The enhanced nurse licensure compact will make the process of getting licensed in multiple states quick and easy by moving beyond the individual state-by-state licensing systems that are currently common. In the past, nurses have been required to complete the licensing process in multiple states as they travel across state lines. This can become a tedious and lengthy process as each state has its own requirements for licensure. Now the process has been streamlined. The enhanced nurse licensure compact will enable you to get out and work sooner.

8. You may not have to meet new requirements if you already hold a nurse compact license.

The good news for you if you already hold a nurse compact license before July 20, 2017, you will be grandfathered into the rules and regulations of the enhanced nurse licensure compact. You will be able to continue practicing as you already are without any extra red tape to navigate through.

9. You will have fewer licenses to obtain

You can kind of view an enhanced nurse licensure compact as a one-stop shop. One of the advantages of enhanced nurse licensure compact is that you will not have to maintain multiple state licenses. Having a compact license will allow you to practice in various states without all the headaches. So, you can spend your time caring for others and not trying to remember how many licenses you need and where you filed them.

10. May help with the nursing shortage crisis.

The enhanced nurse licensure compact may help with the nursing staffing crisis sweeping the nation. Nurses will be able to aide hospitals by working across state lines without any additional paperwork. This will be especially beneficial to the facilities that are constantly struggling to find qualified nurses. Hospitals will efficiently recruit nurses from other states in the compact, and they can begin working right away. Short staffing can be dangerous not only for patients but will also lead to nurses making mistakes and the nurse becoming burned out.


My Final Thoughts


The enhanced nurse compact license is a controversial topic in the nursing world. Some critics will argue that the enhanced nurse licensure compact will help reduce licensing requirements for nurses moving to another state. In contrast, others believe this would be detrimental to public health and safety. The enhanced nurse compact license is a great way to broaden your nursing career, but it does come with some drawbacks. So, what are the pros and cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact?

To help you decide whether the enhanced license is suitable for you, the top 10 pros and cons of enhanced nurse licensure compact that I have provided to you in this article will give you the information to make that decision. It is a big decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Remember this is your career we are talking about.


Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.