Is a Multistate Nurse Practitioner License on the Horizon?

Nurses in 25 states enjoy the convenience of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), the multistate license helping RNs avoid the headache of applying for licensure should they choose to work in a different state. While the NLC is gaining favor across the country and more and more states are choosing to adopt the agreement, no such arrangement exists for nurse practitioners. When will NPs enjoy the practice freedoms that comes with a multistate license?

The Advantages of an APRN Compact License

Nurse practitioners and their championing organizations have long recognized the convenience of a multistate license. Should a compact be enacted, nurse practitioners licensed in one state could transition to practicing in another with ease, avoiding the long process of applying for licensure from an additional board of nursing. This would be particularly helpful for NPs living in border communities who may practice in multiple states simultaneously as well as those who work locums positions, traveling across the country. Licensing processes delay job start dates, an often costly inconvenience for both nurse practitioners and employers. 

APRN Compact Efforts

The movement for an ARPN Compact License began in 2002 with an original proposition for what nurse practitioner licensure would look like in participating states published in 2008. Texas, Iowa and Utah agreed to the language in the agreement adopting the model for APRN licensure but it was never enacted. A minimum of five states were needed to set the APRN Compact into action but only three states could agree on the stipulations of the original compact. 

So, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing went back to the drawing board. A new APRN Compact was drafted and approved on May 4, 2105. If adopted by at least ten states, the new APRN Licensure Compact will be enacted.

Challenges in Reaching an Agreement

While a multistate nurse practitioner license would make the lives of nurse practitioners easier, state scope of practice laws make it difficult to reach a multistate license agreement. Laws regulating nurse practice vary significantly by state making a single agreement difficult to adopt. These laws are not only influenced by state boards of nursing but also by lobbyists, medical boards, and other legislative influences. Changing the language of state NP licensure can be a long, controversial practice. 

The Future

In the face of an aging population, a primary care shortage, and healthcare reform, many states have recently revisited their scope of practice policies in regards to nurse practitioners. Many have opted to modify scope of practice laws giving nurse practitioners more freedom in their practice. Given the changing face of NP practice, states may be more open to embracing the recently proposed APRN Licensure Compact. 
 
How would a multistate nurse practitioner license be an asset to your practice?