Washington Enacts Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)
CHICAGO – Gov. Jay Inslee signed the NLC into law on April 21, 2023, making Washington state the 40th jurisdiction to enact the NLC. The compact allows registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in person or via telehealth, in both their home territory/state and other NLC states.
Sen. Mark Mullet, the NLC bill sponsor, said, “Washington has critical and urgent needs for more nurses. We’ve got some of the highest pay of all the states in the nurse compact, so I expect many of the best nurses in the country will want to come to work here. The result will be better care for patients and moving away from temporary traveling nurses and towards hiring more full-time nurses in our local communities. It took a lot of work and negotiations to get this bill through the process, and this is going to be a great step forward.”
Licensure requirements are aligned in NLC states, so all nurses applying for a multistate license are required to meet those same standards, including submission to a federal and state fingerprint-based criminal background check.
Executive Director of Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission Paula R. Meyer MSN, RN, FRE, notes, “The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission has supported the NLC for more than 25 years. The passage of the bill further protects the public through the coordination of all boards of nursing in the compact working together to protect the public. The public protection measures in the compact include FBI background checks on all nurses who receive a multistate license and sharing of significant investigative information.”
Although the NLC has been enacted in Washington, an implementation process must be completed before its residents will be able to apply for a multistate license, and before nurses in other NLC states who hold a multistate license will be able to practice there. The implementation date has not been set.
With the multistate license, nurses are able to provide telehealth nursing services to patients located in NLC states without having to obtain additional licenses. A multistate license facilitates cross-border practice for many types of nurses who routinely practice with patients in other states, including primary care nurses, case managers, transport nurses, school and hospice nurses and many others. Further, military spouses who experience moves every few years also benefit greatly from the multistate license.
About the Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators (ICNLCA)
The ICNLCA facilitates cross border nursing practice through the implementation of the nationally recognized, multistate license, the NLC. The ICNLCA enhances nurse mobility and public protection through maintaining uniform licensure standards among party state boards of nursing; promoting cooperation and collaboration between party states, facilitating the exchange of data and information between party states; and educating stakeholders. The ICNLCA is a quasi-governmental and joint public agency of the party states created and established on July 20, 2017. The Executive Committee is the seven-member elected leadership of the ICNLCA.
About the NLC
The NLC allows for RNs and LPN/VNs to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in person or via telehealth in both their home state and other NLC states. There are 40 jurisdictions that are members of the NLC. Licensing standards are aligned in NLC states, so all nurses applying for a multistate license are required to meet the same standards, which include a federal and state criminal background check that will be conducted for all applicants for multistate licensure.
The NLC also enables nurses to provide telehealth nursing services to patients located across the country without having to obtain additional licenses. In the event of a disaster, nurses from multiple states can easily respond to supply vital services. Additionally, almost every nurse, including primary care nurses, case managers, transport nurses, school and hospice nurses, among many others, needs to routinely cross state boundaries to provide the public with access to nursing services, and a multistate license facilitates this process.