Multi-State Licensure Moving Forward

April 11, 2017 by InTouch Health

The enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), which simplifies multi-state licensure for telehealth, is moving steadily toward adoption. One of the reasons why it’s gaining momentum is because the federal government is now taking “resilience” quite seriously. The term means the ability to rapidly recover from disruptive emergencies –you can learn more about the topic on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website.

The DHS feels that telehealth can play a vital role in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes, hurricanes, or terrorist attacks requiring more nursing resources than are available locally.  Not surprisingly, the first 10 states to sign on to the enhanced compact include several that have been hard-hit by natural disasters. New Hampshire had five counties declared federal disaster areas following Superstorm Sandy – and Oklahoma had the mega-tornado in Moore that destroyed over 1,100 homes.

The eNLC goes into effect as soon as 26 states pass legislation authorizing it, or on Dec. 31, 2018, whichever comes first. Officials with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) are optimistic that enactment will beat that 2018 deadline.

The enhanced compact contains specific telehealth language to “meet the growing need for nurse mobility and clarification of the authority to practice for many nurses currently engaged in telenursing or interstate practice.

”Licensing standards are aligned across all ten eNLC states, which means that all nurses applying for multistate licensure must pass a federal and state criminal background check. That automatically weeds out any nurses who have credential violations like patient abuse or theft of narcotics – infractions which, if undetected, can force a hospital to pay six-figure regulatory fines.

Rural states have so far led the way in compact ratification, with Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming being early adopters. At least five states currently have eNLC legislation pending.

We need more stalwart legislators like Oklahoma representative Pat Ownbey to step up to the plate. “This eNLC legislation is a giant step forward for Oklahoma’s healthcare system,” he says. “I’m certainly proud to be part of this effort.”