TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan and Senate Health Committee Chair Joseph F. Vitale that would enter New Jersey into the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) and enable New Jersey-licensed nurses to practice in other member states advanced in the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today.
Under the bill, S-3167, a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN) who resides and is licensed in New Jersey, and whose license is in good standing, would be allowed to practice, both physically and via technology, in other states that are members of the NLC without additional applications or fees. The nurse must still comply with the state practice laws of the state in which the patient is located at the time care is rendered. Currently, a nurse is required to be licensed in, and by, each state in which he or she chooses to practice.
“The Compact was created to address issues around telemedicine which is increasing as medicine and technology progress,” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic). “It also allows nurses greater flexibility and mobility when expanding their careers and experiences in their practice.”
Under the NLC, a nurse who applies for licensure is required to meet the qualifications for licensure and license renewal of the nurse’s state of residence. While a nurse may be licensed in any state or states that are not parties to the compact, a nurse may only be licensed in one state that is a party to the compact.
“Creating a streamlined process that is built around cooperation and collaboration among states will allow us to provide the public with greater access to safe nursing care while ensuring that the standards and enforcement of licensure laws are equivalent across state borders,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This creates a better exchange of information between states in the area of nurse regulation and investigation to ensure a safer healthcare consumer and it also creates more options for patients and opportunities for nurses.”
The NLC authorizes states that are party to the compact to limit, suspend, or revoke the multistate licensure privilege of any nurse to practice in that state and may take any other actions under the applicable state laws necessary to protect the health and safety of the citizens 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 serve as the Compact Administrator if this legislation is enacted.
The NLC also establishes a coordinated licensure information system that includes a database on the licensure and disciplinary history of all nurses licensed in the party states. The party states are required to report to the 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.
Twenty-five states have enacted and implemented legislation that allows nurses to practice across state lines. Five states are currently pending NLC implementation, including New York and Massachusetts. A complete list and map of member states can be found at www.ncsbn.org/nurse-licensure-compact.htm.
The bill passed with a vote of 9-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.