Can You Hold a Nursing License in Multiple States?

Nurse and man looking at notes together

If your goal in obtaining your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is becoming a travel nurse or telehealth nurse, you may be wondering how to earn a multistate nursing license that allows you to practice as a registered nurse in more than one location.

At Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, you can graduate and apply for your nursing license in as few as 16 months. Therefore, it’s good to have an idea of how to prepare for the licensing process if you’re planning to work in multiple states.

So, can you hold a nursing license in multiple states? The answer is yes! While it is possible to hold multiple state-specific licenses, a great option for nurses is the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). An added bonus: it’s less paperwork, too.

Nurse Licensure Compact

The NLC, also referred to as a multistate nursing license, allows a registered nurse to have one license that enables them to practice in the state they were certified in as well any of the other compact states, which currently total 38.

It’s important to note that only nurses who primarily reside in a compact state can get a multi-state license. If you live in a noncompact state, you will need to apply for a license by endorsement in a compact state. However, with this route, your eligibility will be limited to a single state license that is valid in that state only. As a resident of a noncompact state, you are permitted to hold as many single-state licenses as you need, according to The National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

While the NLC is not available in all 50 states, it’s beneficial in that it does help mitigate some of the costs and hassle of applying for multiple licenses.

How to Get a Compact License in Ohio

In Ohio, the NLC has been enacted, but won’t it be effective until January 2023. However, if you are a current ABSN student and are interested in getting your license in a compact state before then, your nursing education at Xavier University prepares you to apply for the NCLEX in a state convenient to you. If you haven’t started the ABSN program yet, by the time you graduate, you’ll be able to get a multi-state license from Ohio.

When you apply for licensure in a compact state where you plan to live and practice, you’ll then be eligible to apply to take the NCLEX. The results of your NCLEX exam are then sent to the board of nursing where you applied for your authorization to test and licensure. Then, upon passing the NCLEX, you’ll receive a multistate license from the state where you plan to become a legal resident and work as a registered nurse.

Compact License States

The following states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Put simply, if your primary license is from one of these states, then you can also practice in any of the other compact license states listed on the map below:

State by State Information

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has many great resources if you want to research what kind of license might benefit you most. The site will show you applications for different state nursing licenses and let you know how long each state generally takes to grant licenses, so you can plan accordingly.

Another great resource provided by NCSBN is Nursys. Nursys is a national database of licensure and disciplinary information of all licensed RNs in participating states. You can use the system to manage your licenses. Using the database, a nurse wishing to practice in another state or anybody wanting to verify a nurse license can get online verification for endorsement.

Ready to Set Your Education in Motion?

Now that you know how to obtain a multistate nursing license, it’s time to start the ABSN enrollment process.

When you’re ready to apply, you can choose to enroll in our ABSN program location in either Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus, targeting a January, May, or August start date.

With Xavier University’s 16-month accelerated nursing program, you’ll learn through a hybrid model, consisting of foundational online courses, hand-on skills and simulation labs, and real-world clinical experiences.

Reach out to an admission counselor today to learn more about how to start your nursing future with Xavier.

Xavier ABSN simulation lab

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