What to Know About Getting Your Nursing License in Another State

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What You Need to Know About Getting Your Nursing License in Another State

The current nurse licensure laws in this country are very different from those introduced in 1903. While changes to these laws have occurred over time, there’s finally a modern solution that removes some of the hassles of living in one state and getting your nursing license in another state. So, if you want to relocate for our 16-month ABSN program, here’s how this latest licensure solution impacts you.

Whether you choose our ABSN program in Charlotte, North Carolina, or Burlington, Massachusetts, you’ll receive the same quality Northeastern nursing education. Once you graduate, you’ll be eligible to register for the NCLEX-RN® exam in your home state or any other state you wish to live and practice in. Keep in mind, you must reside in the state for which you plan to sit for the NCLEX.

But before we get into the licensure details for North Carolina and Massachusetts, it’s important to have the following background information.

Original Nurse Licensure Compact

Operating under the belief that a modern healthcare system should be dynamic and fluid across state boundaries, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) introduced the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) in 2000.

In years prior, nurses had to obtain a separate license for every state in which they planned to practice. These regulatory barriers were not only costly and time-consuming for nurses, but also made it difficult for them to assist other states during natural disasters.

Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact

While 25 states were part of the original compact, the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), implemented in January 2018, features new “uniform licensure requirements” that have enticed other states to get on board.

Thereby, nurses applying for a multistate license must meet the same standards, which includes undergoing a federal and state criminal background check. (The original compact didn’t require applicants to undergo federal and state fingerprint-based criminal background checks.)

Currently, there are more than 30 states actively participating in the eNLC (including North Carolina), with three states awaiting implementation and four states pending legislation, including Massachusetts.

Enhanced NLC states issue multistate licenses that allow nurses to practice physically, electronically, and/or telephonically across a state border to patients located in other eNLC states. Take note that nurses who practice in other states using their multistate license must adhere to the laws and regulations of the state where the patients are located.

Overall, the eNLC represents a new and exciting era for nurse licensure. It not only gives nurses increased mobility to practice, but also provides the public at large with better access to healthcare. Per NCSBN, more than two million nurses live in eNLC states and can practice in other eNLC states.

Did You Know?
You must hold residency in an eNLC state to apply for a compact license. If you don’t live in an eNLC state, you can apply for licensure by endorsement from the state. However, you’ll be issued a single-state license instead of the compact license. Nurses can hold multiple single-state licenses.

Nurse Licensure in North Carolina

North Carolina is an eNLC member. In fact, it was part of the original compact. Currently, there are 110,942 registered nurses employed in The Tar Heel State, with 107,099 living in the state and 3,843 living out of state.

After graduating from our ABSN program in Charlotte, you can pursue one multistate license that authorizes you to practice in North Carolina and any other eNLC state. Every state that borders North Carolina—South Carolina to the south, Georgia to the southwest, Tennessee to the west, and Virginia to the north—is part of the compact. However, you’re not limited to this part of the country. You can practice nursing as far east as Maine or as far west as Idaho.

More specifically, obtaining your nursing license in North Carolina provides access to any number of employment opportunities across the country. You could work in a local hospital, deliver telehealth services to patients in another state, or travel to different states to provide patient care in underserved communities.

Charlotte Student Spotlights

Most of our nation’s nursing schools have more qualified applicants than they do seats in their programs. Because our ABSN program can enroll a high number of qualified students per year, we’ve seen an increase in the number of students willing to relocate to Charlotte for our program. The following two students traveled great distances for their nursing education.

Miranda - Northeastern University ABSN Program Graduate

Miranda, 2019 ABSN Program Graduate

When she found herself getting waitlisted by nursing schools in her home state of California, Miranda decided to pack up her car and move to Charlotte for our ABSN program. “I chose the Northeastern ABSN program because it was a quick, reputable program.”

Northeastern ABSN Charlotte Student Sean McErlane

Sean, 2019 ABSN Program Graduate

When he decided to leave his corrections officer position in Alaska to become a nurse, Sean applied to our ABSN program in Charlotte. “I had family in the area and was drawn to the three program start dates a year.”

Nurse Licensure in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is pending eNLC legislation (House Bill No. 2891 and House Bill No. 1944). If the state passes the eNLC legislation, it could take a year or so to complete the implementation of the compact.

So, if you decide to live and practice in Massachusetts, once the state becomes part of the eNLC, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing will contact the nurses who are registered within the state and determine who qualifies for a multistate license.

Take note that while the eNLC legislation is still pending for Massachusetts, graduates of our ABSN program in Burlington can pursue registered nurse licensure in any state they reside in.

Burlington Student Spotlight

Our Burlington-based ABSN program has seen students relocate from as far west as California, Oregon, and Washington. We've even had students relocate from within the state of Massachusetts.

Erin - Northeastern ABSN 2019 graduate

Erin, 2019 ABSN Program Graduate

Living in a remote area of Massachusetts, Erin decided to temporarily rent an apartment in the Boston area. Otherwise, it would be almost a four-hour commute to our ABSN program site in Burlington. Erin would spend the week at her apartment to be close to our site and her clinical placements and then travel home on the weekends to see her family. “Northeastern was the best option for where I lived.”

Current Compact Status

NLC Status - USA map

Ready to relocate for our ABSN program?

As you can see, moving to North Carolina or Massachusetts to earn your BSN has no bearing on where you can become licensed to practice. To be eligible for our 16-month ABSN program in either state, you must have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, along with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. To learn more about our ABSN program and getting your nursing license in another state, contact our admissions team today!

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