As a registered nurse you need to be licensed. We all know that. When you decide to take the plunge and consider taking a travel nursing job in a state other then your regular domicile you need to give some thought to the travel nursing licensing situation.
There are three things I’d like to cover here:
- Compact Nursing License States
- So called “walk through” states
- All others
Compact Nursing License States
The Nurse Licensure Compact is an agreement that allows “mutual recognition” of a nursing license between member states. If your state of residence is one of the Nurse Licensure Compact states then you would be able to take a travel nursing assignment and use your existing license. Pretty handy for a travel nurse!
One thing to remember is that if you change your state of residence you will then need to get a regular license in that state.
Example: Let’s say you are licensed in Texas, one of the Compact states and you take a travel nurse job in Arizona, another Compact state. Your Texas license will work for you there. After doing a couple of 13 week assignments in Arizona you decide you like it so much you want to live there. At that point you will need to get a regular Arizona nursing license.
You should also know that if you are a licensed resident of a non-Compact state and obtain a license to work in a Compact state that license will NOT extend to other Compact states.
As I am writing this, there are 24 states in the Compact. For the most current list of states you should check the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website as several states are considering legislation to be added to the compact. (At this time I believe New York, Minnesota and Illinois are working on it).
Check with your travel nursing agency early on so there is no confusion regarding this. Travel nursing licensing is part of the service they provide.
“Walk Through” States
There are a few states that are not members of the Compact that will, under certain strict guidelines, give you a temporary license to work as a nurse while you are going through the licensing process in that state. I don’t have a list of these states but it is worth looking into if you anat to get to work without waiting for the paperwork to work it’s way through the bureacracy. Again, check with your recruiter.
Licensing is obviously a very important part of getting things in order for you to take a travel nurse job outside of your state of residence. Address it early. You might even consider making a list of the places you would like to travel to for assignment and just roll up your sleeves and get licenses in all of them. I think it is easier to do all at once up front because each state will require license verification from all states you are licensed in. If you do them all at once you will only have to provide that verification from your “home” state and it should go more quickly.
Travel nursing agencies are more than willing to help you with this. It is at the heart of their business, part of why they exist. If you would like to talk with a few of them directly and ask these sort of questions (and more) you can fill out our short form and we will put you in touch. Learn more.
Are you an experienced travel nurse who would like to give a tip to your fellow nurses on this subject? Please feel free to comment on this post and share your experiences.