Board of Nursing
Nurse Licensure Compact Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Tennessee General Assembly enacted the Nurse Licensure Compact in 2002. As of July 1, 2008, the following states belong to this mutual recognition model of multistate nursing regulation: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Nurses who reside in other compact states who hold a multistate license “have the “multistate privilege” to practice in Tennessee without the requirement for a license issued by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. The following questions and answers provide information about the Nurse Licensure Compact and how it will affect employment of nurses from other compact (party) states that have enacted the Compact.
Q: What does a ‘multistate privilege to practice’ mean?
A: Similar to the driver’s license model, this is the mechanism in the Nurse Licensure Compact that allows a nurse who is licensed in one compact state (home state) to legally practice in another compact state (remote state). It is important to understand that the Nurse Licensure Compact requires the nurse to adhere to the practice laws and rules of the state in which the client(s) receives care.
Q: Where will nurses obtain/renew their license under this mutual recognition model of licensure?
A: Nurses must meet the requirements to obtain and renew their license in their primary state of residence. Primary state of residence as defined in the Compact means “the person’s fixed permanent and principal home for legal purposes; domicile”.
Q: How will the Nurse Licensure Compact affect nurses who live in Compact states?
A: As of July 1, 2003, a nurse who resides in Tennessee and holds an unencumbered Tennessee multistate nursing license will have the ‘multistate privilege to practice’ in any of the other compact states. Likewise, a nurse who resides in and is licensed by another compact state and holds a multistate license will have the ‘multistate privilege to practice’ in Tennessee. When a nurse changes his/her primary state of residence to another compact state he/she will be required to apply for and obtain a nursing license in that state. A nurse who lives in a compact state no longer must obtain (or renew) a license in any of the other states that have enacted the Nurse Licensure Compact.
Q: Will the nurse who lives in a non-compact state and practices in Tennessee still need to have a license to practice in Tennessee?
A: Yes. Nurses who practice nursing in Tennessee but live in a non-compact state, such as California or Georgia, must continue to hold a license issued by the Tennessee Board of Nursing. The Nurse Licensure Compact will not change how they obtain or renew their Tennessee license. However, the Tennessee nursing license will be a single state license for non-compact state residents. It will not include the multistate licensure privilege to practice in other compact states. This privilege is extended only to those nurses who reside in Tennessee.
Q: How will employers verify licensure status of nurses under this mutual recognition model?
A: For nurses who holds a license issued by the Tennessee Board of Nursing, employers will continue to verify licensure status via the internet (www.tennessee.gov/health) or through our automated telephone verification system at 888-778-4123. Please note that verification via internet will include the multistate privilege to practice for those nurses who reside in Tennessee and hold an unencumbered license.
For those nurses who are licensed in another compact state and are seeking employment in Tennessee, employers are asked to access the nationally coordinated licensure information system called NURSYS. Basic licensure information as well as disciplinary history for a licensee will be provided through this system at www.nursys.com, or contact the website/office of the state of licensure.
NOTE: With the implementation of this new model of licensure and the continuation of the single state license for nurses who reside in non-compact states, it is most important that employers verify the licensure status of all nurses seeking employment in Tennessee.
Q: How will employers be informed of new states joining the Nurse Licensure Compact?
A: This information will be available on the website of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). It is most important that employers remain informed as other states join the Compact. Please note that there may be a lag time between enactment of the Nurse Licensure Compact and implementation.
Q: How will complaints about nurses be handled within this mutual recognition model?
A: The compact authorizes the nurse licensing board of any compact state (home or remote) to investigate allegations of unsafe practice by any nurse practicing in that state. Based upon the outcome of the investigation, a remote state licensing board may deny the nurse’s multistate privilege to practice in that state. Only the nurse’s home state (state of residence) licensing board may take action against the nurse’s license. States will continue to apply the same administrative and due process procedures for imposing discipline as they have always done. However, compact states will have more timely access to information, including current significant investigative information and the disciplinary history of nurses, through the coordinated licensure information system (NURSYS). Should you have a complaint to report about a nurse practicing in Tennessee, submit it to the Health Related Boards Investigative Division (1-800-852-2187).
Q: How do I get more information about mutual recognition and the Nurse Licensure Compact?
A: The Nurse Licensure Compact and other information related to the mutual recognition of nursing regulation are available on the Board website. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website (www.ncsbn.org) lists the states that have enacted the Nurse Licensure Compact and provides in-depth information on the mutual recognition model. NCSBN may be accessed directly or through a link on the Tennessee Board of Nursing’s website. If you have specific questions about this new model of nursing regulation please contact the Board office.