Why do nurses get licensed by a state board instead of a federal board?

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    Forgive my ignorance, but I've always wondered, why do nurses have to get licensed on a state-by-state basis?
    Wouldn't it be easier for nurses to change jobs if there was a singular federal license board?
    How does the actual practice of nursing vary from state to state?
  2. 21 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    Politics. It sure would be easier for us, but the laws are not for our convenience. It makes sense as each state has its own needs, and sets the requirements for a plethora of job.
    Hospice Nurse LPN likes this.
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    Interesting question - it applies to doctors, lawyers, cosmetologists, barbers, real estate, drivers' licenses and more I can't think of. I guess we need to remember the US is a republic of states each with their own states' rights. Canadian nurses - is your licensing provincial or federal?
  5. 1
    Quote from samianquazi
    Forgive my ignorance, but I've always wondered, why do nurses have to get licensed on a state-by-state basis?
    Wouldn't it be easier for nurses to change jobs if there was a singular federal license board?
    How does the actual practice of nursing vary from state to state?
    It has to do with the US Constitution, believe it or not.

    The Federal Government has no authority on matters specifically reserved for the states.
    Neveranurseagain likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from kesr
    Interesting question - it applies to doctors, lawyers, cosmetologists, barbers, real estate, drivers' licenses and more I can't think of. I guess we need to remember the US is a republic of states each with their own states' rights. Canadian nurses - is your licensing provincial or federal?
    Actually, lawyers can only practice law in the states that they have passed the bar. Someone who took the NY bar cannot practice in PA unless he/she passes that bar.
  7. 3
    Article I, Section VIII of the US Constitution pretty much spells out the powers of the federal government. No where will you find mention of creating any sort of licensing or so froth for trades/professions. If the government even tried, such a law would be shot down by the courts.

    Unlike other countries, many of them former monarchies, the states of the "United States of America", created a national government via the Constitution. This document enumerates the powers and reach of the federal government, and what is not laid out there, belongs to the states.

    In essence the states are sovereign within their own borders for legislative purposes, as is the federal government when it involves national or intersate issues. When there is a dispute over who is stepping on whose toes, the matter ends up in the courts and usually the SCOTUS has to make the call.

    For much of history, especially in the old world of monarchs in the UK and Europe, a guild or trade applied to the king or whomever was head of state to petition for charter to practice, protection and so forth. When the United States was "created" the idea was *not* to have all powers rest with a central government, telling the states what to do.

    Whom is allowed to practice any sort of trade or profession, their education, requirements for licensure (if any) and governance , are strictly a local (state) issue. States set up "boards" to oversee various professions and to amoung other thing ensure safety of those within it's own borders. There is no equal in the federal government for this.

    Pigs will learn to apply lipstick and fly before states cede their powers to control nursing and or any other profession. As it tis many are having second thoughts about joining the national board exam (NCLEX) system, thus giving up individual state licensing exams.
    BluegrassRN, Asystole RN, and LG1137 like this.
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    Personally, I believe it's about money and not about convenience for nurses. Every time you go to another state they get to charge you some money. The states aren't about to give that up. Plus, a federal license for nurses would require that there be a federal licensing board and federal nursing practice act which I don't see happening any time soon.
  9. 0
    In addition to what others have mentioned, the laws that govern nursing vary from state to state.
  10. 0
    Because our country is backwards.
  11. 0
    Quote from samianquazi
    Forgive my ignorance, but I've always wondered, why do nurses have to get licensed on a state-by-state basis?
    Wouldn't it be easier for nurses to change jobs if there was a singular federal license board?
    How does the actual practice of nursing vary from state to state?
    Even if it was a national liscense and not a federal liscense that would make more sense since you take the same test regardless of your state. I took my boards for Texas and tested in Oklahoma. But the question is " How would a state get their money from me if we had a national liscense? "


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