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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Troy Singleton that would enter New Jersey in the enhanced multistate Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) was approved today by the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

The bill comes in response to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s adoption of updates and enhancements to the multistate Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) which allows nurses to obtain licenses in a member state and then practice their profession in other member states without needing a separate, additional license.  With the adoption of the bill, New Jersey would join other original NLC member states currently enacting state legislation to transition into the eNLC and adhere to 11 newly-formulated uniform licensure requirements.  The most heralded and significant change to the requirements is that the party state licensing boards must obtain and submit criminal background checks involving fingerprints or other biometric data from the applicant nurses.

“The enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact brings New Jersey into the 21st Century and prepares us for the social trends and medical advances of the future,” said Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizen Committee Chair Vitale (D-Middlesex).  “Nurses are becoming more mobile with interstate relocations; communication technology is fostering widespread telemedicine; and if, God forbid, a disaster warrants an influx of nurses from one state to another, their expertise won’t be delayed by a Governor’s special order.  Nurses will be pre-vetted to jump into action at will.”

The bill, committee substitute S-954/S-1699, provides for a mutual recognition model of nurse licensure for registered professional nurses and licensed practical nurses, in which a nurse only needs to obtain one license from the nurse’s state of residence in order to be permitted to practice nursing in any other state that is a party to the compact, as long as the nurse complies with the state practice laws of the state in which the patient is located at the time that care is rendered.

“Currently, nurses are required to be licensed in each and every state in which he or she chooses to practice,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “But under this Compact, nurses will only have to apply and qualify for licensure and renewal in the state where they reside. This alleviates a major professional barrier in an industry where there is constant demand, especially with our aging population.”

The eNLC would authorize a state that is a party to the compact to limit, suspend, or revoke the multistate licensure privilege of any nurse to practice in that state and could take any other actions under the applicable state laws necessary to protect the health and safety of the citizen of the party state.  All party states are authorized to take actions against a nurse’s privileges to practice in the state, including, suspension, revocation, or probation.  In New Jersey, the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety would be the Compact Administrator.

The eNLC would also establish a coordinated licensure information system that would include a database on the licensure and disciplinary history of all nurses licensed in the party states.  The party states would be required to report to the coordinated system all adverse actions against nurses, including actions against multistate licensure privileges, any current significant investigative information yet to result in an adverse action, and denials of applications and the reasons for the denials.

An applicant for licensure in a state that is part of the eNLC will need to meet the following uniform licensure requirements:

  1. Meets the home state’s qualifications for licensure or renewal of licensure, as well as, all other applicable state laws;
  2. Has graduated or is eligible to graduate from a licensing board-approved RN or LPN/VN prelicensure education program;
  3. Has, if a graduate of a foreign prelicensure education program not taught in English or if English is not the individual’s native language, successfully passed an English proficiency examination that includes the components of reading, speaking, writing and listening;
  4. Has successfully passed specified examinations;
  5. Is eligible for or holds an active, unencumbered license;
  6. Has submitted, in connection with an application for initial licensure or licensure by        endorsement, fingerprints or other biometric data for the purpose of obtaining criminal history record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the agency responsible for retaining that state’s criminal records;
  7. Has not been convicted or found guilty, or has entered into an agreed disposition, of a felony offense under applicable state or federal criminal law;
  8. Has not been convicted or found guilty, or has entered into an agreed disposition, of a misdemeanor offense related to the practice of nursing as determined on a case-by-case basis;
  9. Is notcurrently enrolled in an alternative program;
  10. Is subject to self-disclosure requirements regarding current participation in an alternative program; and
  11. Has a valid United States Social Security number.

With today’s 8-0 vote, the bill advances to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.