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Compact Nursing States List 2024


Are you interested in becoming a travel nurse? Or maybe you want to move to new state? Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of a compact nursing license.

Definition of a Compact License

Interstate compacts are agreements between states that allow for mutual recognition of professional licensing. The Nurse Licensure Compact is a specific interstate compact that allows for recognition of a nursing license in multiple states. The Nurse Licensure Compact primarily focuses on licensure for registered nurses (RNs).

History of the Nurse Licensure Compact

The Nurse Licensure Compact was created by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) in the late 1990s. By the year 2000, Texas, Wisconsin, and Utah joined the Nurse Licensure Compact.

Obtaining a Compact Nursing License

In order to gain a nursing license, student nurses must first complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is administered by the NCSBN. In order to gain a compact nursing license, nurses apply for a license in one compact state and may then practice in any other compact state without the need for additional licensure. A nurse can only have one license in one state at a time, and if a nurse permanently moves from their “home state” to a new state, they must get a new license in their new home state. However, if a nurse is only temporarily living and working in a different state, they do not need a new license.

Current Status of the Nurse Licensure Compact

As of June 2024, the following states actively participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact:

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

As of June 2024, the following states and territories have partial or pending implementation of the Nurse Licensure Compact:

  • Connecticut (legislation will go into effect on October 1, 2025)
  • Pennsylvania (nurses licensed in other compact states may practice in Pennsylvania, but nurses licensed in Pennsylvania may NOT practice in other states)
  • US Virgin Islands (pending implementation)
  • Guam (nurses licensed in other compact states may practice in Guam, but nurses licensed in Guam may NOT practice in other states)

As of June 2024, the following states are introducing legislative bills in order to potentially join the Nurse Licensure Compact:

  • Alaska (House Bill 149 and Senate Bill 130 are due to be introduced in Legislative Session in January 2025)
  • California (California Assembly Bill 3232 was introduce in 2024 and has been referred to the Committee on Business and Professions)
  • Hawaii (House Bill 667 was introduced in 2023. The state legislature has requested that a working group is create to identify potential impacts of adopting the Nurse Licensure Compact. The bill will be voted on after the working group presents their findings)
  • Illinois (House Bill 4269 was introduced in 2022 and has been referred to the Rules Committee)
  • Massachusetts (House Bill 1211 was introduced in 2023 but has stalled)
  • Michigan (House Bill 4935 was introduced in 2023 and was referred to the House Health Policy Committee for further consideration)
  • Minnesota (Senate Bill 3281 was introduced in 2023 and was referred to Health and Human Services)
  • New York (Senate Bill A6421 was introduced in 2023 and was referred to Higher Education)

As of June 2024, these states have no current or pending legislation in order to join the Nurse Licensure Compact:

  • Nevada (Assembly Bill 108 was introduced in 2023 and failed to pass)
  • Oregon (House Bill 2408 was introduced in 2023 and failed to pass)

Why does the Nurse Licensure Compact Matter?

  1. Employment Distribution

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were roughly 3,175,000 registered nurses employed in the United States in 2023. In 2023, California had the highest employment level at roughly 332,000 nurses, while Wyoming had the lowest employment level at roughly 5,300 nurses. Many states such as Wyoming consistently suffer from healthcare worker shortages due to a low number of employed nurses. The Nurse Licensure Compact is a way for nurses to temporarily or permanently move to states with healthcare worker shortages and to quickly start working in order to ease those shortages.

  1. Compensation

Nurses across the United States are chronically underpaid and overworked. The Nurse Licensure Compact is a way for nurses to become travel nurses and earn more money. Typically, travel nurses will work for a nurse staffing agency who will contract with a facility in another state. These staffing agencies have more bargaining power than a single nurse and therefore can help nurses to earn much higher wages and better benefits. Furthermore, most travel contracts last for weeks or months, rather than an entire year. As such, travel nurses may have the opportunity to earn an entire year’s salary in a much shorter time frame.

  1. Life Happens

Nurses are people too and sometimes situations arise in which a nurse must move to another state. This can happen for a variety of reasons: a military family relocation, caring for ailing family member, education and employment opportunities, wages and cost of living, etc. Whatever the reason, sometimes nurses have to move to a different state. The Nurse Licensure Compact is a way for nurses to start working in a new state without an employment gap. Nurses can apply for a license in their new home state while working under their current compact license. As such, there is no loss in earnings while waiting for licensure to go through a state’s board of nursing.

  1. Acts of Terrorism, Environmental Disasters, and Disease Outbreaks

Since the implementation of the Nurse Licensure Compact in the late 1990s, the United States has experienced several large-scale environmental disasters, disease outbreaks, and acts of terror. From the devastating effects of terrorism on September 11, 2001, to the disaster of Hurricane Karina in August 2005, to the highly contagious H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has been overwhelmed by events that have cause massive numbers of trauma, disease, and death in very short periods of time. When these events occur, there is often a shortage of healthcare workers available to meet the needs of large affected population. The Nurse Licensure Compact is a way for healthcare facilities to quickly contract with nurses to reduce healthcare worker shortages and care for the affected population. The COVID-19 pandemic is a particularly salient example of a disease outbreak causing widespread healthcare worker shortages. Many healthcare facilities employed a large number of travel nurses during the COVID-19 state of emergency in order to provide care to the massive influx of patients.

The Future of Nursing Compacts

In the United States, a registered nurse can become an advanced practice provider through graduate education. There are several types of Advanced Practice Registered Nursing including: Nurse Practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Nurse Midwives, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.

As an adjunct to the Nurse Licensure Compact, the NCSBN adopted the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Compact in 2020. The APRN Compact allows for providers to practice in multiple states, either online or in-person. Four states have adopted the APRN compact including: Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah. It is predicted that more states will adopt the APRN Compact over the next 5 years.

The APRN compact is a way to meet several needs of the health care system in the United States, including: an increasing and aging population, a shortage of physicians, and an increasing complexity in the healthcare environment. People in the United States are living longer and the population has been shifting in a way that more of the population is greater than 65 years in age. Because the population is increasing in numbers and age, more advanced practice providers are needed.

In addition, there is currently a shortage of physicians in the United States and APRNs are a way to create well prepared providers to help meet the healthcare needs of the population. Advanced practice providers can work alongside physicians in order to care for the population.

Finally, the complexity of healthcare is consistently increasing. Medical specialties focus on very specific aspects of health in order for providers to become experts. APRNs can also become specialized providers that focus on specific areas of health. When providers become experts in a limited area of knowledge, the best care for patients can be provided.

Thanks to a compact nursing license, traveling for work or moving to a new state is easier than ever for nurses. Consider applying for a compact nursing license and imagine the new opportunities waiting for you across the United States!