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Rhode Island has rejoins the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), effective January 1, 2024

Rhode Island has taken a significant step in healthcare by rejoining the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), a move that enhances nursing practice across state borders.

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The new development, effective January 1, 2024, opens doors for Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in person or via telehealth in both their own state and 38 others that have adopted the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

Gov. Daniel J. McKee recently signed legislation making Rhode Island the 41st jurisdiction—along with 38 states, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—to enact the NLC back in July 2023.

Rhode Island was part of the original NLC which has been operational for more than 20 years, but when the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, a new and modernized version of the language was drafted and approved by boards of nursing in 2015, Rhode Island did not join.

That meant that Rhode Island nurses once again had the burden of holding and maintaining licenses for other states in which they wished to practice, and opportunities to be a travel nurse or remain competitive in a telehealth workforce became limited.

What does rejoining Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) mean for Rhode Island?

The Nurse Licensure Compact is an agreement among participating U.S. states and territories that allows nurses to hold a multistate license, granting them the ability to practice in other Compact states without obtaining additional licenses.

Rhode Island's decision to rejoin the NLC reflects a commitment to fostering a more flexible and efficient healthcare system.

Benefits of the Nurse Licensure Compact

Enhanced Mobility: Nurses in Rhode Island can now practice in any of the NLC member states without the need for additional licensure, promoting ease of movement and response to healthcare needs across borders.

Reduced Red Tape: The NLC eliminates the cumbersome process of obtaining multiple licenses for nurses who wish to work in different states. This streamlined approach benefits both healthcare professionals and the institutions they serve.

Improved Patient Care: With a larger pool of nurses available for potential employment, healthcare facilities can better address staffing shortages, particularly in regions with high demand for nursing services.

How to Apply for License Reciprocity in Rhode Island

Nurses looking to take advantage of Rhode Island's participation in the NLC and apply for license reciprocity can follow these steps:

Check Eligibility: Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining a multistate license. Generally, this includes having an active, unrestricted license in Rhode Island, meeting the education and examination requirements, and having a primary residence in Rhode Island or a Compact state.

Submit an Application: Visit the Rhode Island Department of Health's official website or contact the Board of Nursing to access the multistate licensure application. Complete the required forms and submit the necessary documentation, including proof of residence and current licensure.

Verification Process: The licensing board will conduct the necessary background checks and verification of your credentials. This process may take some time, so it's essential to submit your application well in advance of any potential job opportunities.

Notification of Approval: Once your application is approved, you will receive notification, and your multistate license will be issued. With this license, you can practice not only in Rhode Island but also in any of the NLC member states.

Rhode Island's decision to rejoin the Nurse Licensure Compact is a positive development for the nursing community, fostering collaboration and mobility among healthcare professionals. Nurses in Rhode Island can now enjoy the benefits of license reciprocity, providing them with greater flexibility in their careers while contributing to the overall improvement of patient care across state borders.

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