COLUMBIA, S.C. — With state legislative sessions winding down across the country, it appears that two states will join the national Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) that allows nurses to work across state lines more easily. That brings the total number of compact states to 31, but it also means prospects for a 50-state alliance are unlikely for now. That’s according to a study by Qualivis, a national healthcare workforce solutions company based in Columbia, S.C.
Nine states entered 2018 with legislation pending, but most initiatives stalled. Kansas approved the measure in April, with implementation set for July 1, 2019, and Louisiana enacted legislation at the end of May, with implementation as early as December 1.
State concerns about lost licensing revenue, reduced local oversight of nursing requirements and the eNLC commission’s authority over local boards have largely been trumped by arguments for the compact. With demand for nurses outpacing supply and increased job growth ahead, the eNLC’s promise of increased healthcare access and patient safety, easier nurse mobility and decreased costs for interstate hospital systems seems to be winning the day.
“The eNLC offers a number of improvements over previous compacts,” said Sherry Kolb, Qualivis president, who also spent 20 years in nursing before helping launch the workforce solutions company 15 years ago. “The first is mandatory state and federal criminal background checks, with no multistate license for a person with a felony conviction. States must also use Uniform Licensure Requirements, which set consistent standards for initial licensure, renewals and reinstatements.”
Multistate licenses also allow for faster response to disaster, when temporary or supplemental nurses may be needed to relocate quickly to areas hit by hurricanes, floods or other incidents that can overwhelm local facilities, she said.
But some states argue against the compact or continue to take a “wait and see” approach.
- In Ohio, the Board of Nursing decided not to proceed with eNLC because each state has only one vote on regulations regardless of the number of nurses licensed, which it regards as disproportionate representation.
- Oregon requires that nurses must have practiced within the last five years to receive a license, a rule the eNLC would nullify.
- The Washington, D.C., board objects to “licensure where you live” requirement instead of “where you practice” because only 10 percent of nurses working in the D.C. area live there, leading significant revenue losses.
Qualivis is a managed workforce service provider that was created by hospitals for hospitals more than 15 years ago. A division of the South Carolina Hospital Associations Solutions group, it has preferred partner arrangements with 13 state hospital associations, helping nearly 400 partner hospitals fill vacancies quickly with minimal administrative bureaucracy. For more information, visit www.Qualivis.com.
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