It’s never been easier to work in multiple states than it is right now in travel nursing
By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
I get asked all the time about crossing state lines and I’m here to ease any trepidations about that process – it’s easy and extremely important for a travel nurse to factor into decision-making. If you are like me, you look back on your initial NCLEX exam and think, “I’m not going through that again!” Well, luckily there is no test required to move from state to state, but there is some legwork involved.
In my career in travel, I’ve held six different nursing licenses and I’ve only had to work with one amazing recruiter named Lance. Much like a guide on your first European vacation, recruiters can navigate you through the confusing and new spots of traveling until you get your bearings. Since my first assignment was in California, I learned a lot about temporary and permanent licenses – and that not all states have these. Nursing licenses take longer in some states than others, but recruiters can help you cut through the red tape, and give you an idea how long you can expect to wait for a new license.
Now, the news gets better if your initial nursing license is in one of the following states: Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Maine; you are able to work in any of these states without applying for separate licenses. That’s right, one license will let you work in 24 states—and Montana will make it 25 starting October 1--because they are all part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).
The number of compact states has expanded a lot over the years, and that is incredibly beneficial for any travel nurse. You can start assignments faster and expand your career options by region and setting. To learn more about the Nurse Licensure Compact, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.
Another great resource to turn to is an organization and website called Nursys (www.nursys.com). This database provides licensure and disciplinary information of all licensed RNs and LPNs. The public can access this information for free, but if you want to upload your personal information (to keep your paperwork in one place), there is a small fee you can pay to do that.
Overall, getting a license in another state is not meant to be hard. Clean background checks, planning ahead (having the needed paperwork) and updated photos of yourself will help your licensing journey a lot. And, most importantly, talk to your travel nursing recruiter: they are experts and can get you going in the right direction.
Put all that hard work to use and explore the country in a way only travel nurses can!