Can you have RN certification in more than one state?

  1. 0
    How does the RN certification work exactly? Is it only for the state you took the NCLEX-RN in? Or do you have the option of working in another state whenever you want? Do travel nurses have to take the exam in every state they want to work in?

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  2. 20 Comments...

  3. 7
    Just FYI, it's a "license" (or "licensure"), not a "certification."

    There are a few different concepts it's important to understand. First, you only have to pass the NCLEX once -- the exam itself is nationally standardized, and every US state will accept your results.

    Second, each US state has the legal right to control the practice of nursing (and every other licensed occupation/profession) within its own borders. In order to practice within a given state, you have to be licensed in that state (or have a license that is recognized by that state -- more on that later). Once you are initially licensed in a state (in whatever state you start your career), when you want to move to or work in another state, you can apply for licensure in the "new" state and they will license you on the strength of your already being licensed in another state (this is called licensure "by endorsement"). You also have to pass a background check, and some individual states have some particular additional, minor requirements, but it's basically a pretty painless process -- mostly a matter of completing the paperwork and paying whatever big fee the new state charges.

    Some US states have chosen to join the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), in which states agree to recognize other states' nursing licenses for work purposes. This means that you can use your license in your "home" state (if your home state is a member of the compact) to work in any other "compact state" (state that has joined the NLC) for as long as you want -- but only as long as you maintain your permanent residence in your home state. If you move to another state, even another compact state, then you have to apply for a new license in that state. (There's a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about this ...) A "compact license" is most useful for people who work as traveling nurses or who live near the border of another compact state (I live on the border of my state, which is a compact state, and work in the "next door" state, which is also a compact state). For most nurses, compact licensure doesn't really mean anything.

    Not all states have chosen to join the NLC. Here is a current list of participating states: https://www.ncsbn.org/158.htm

    Apart from the NLC, you need to have a state license for any/every state you practice in. You can hold as many licenses as you're willing to pay for.
    Last edit by elkpark on Jan 12, '10
    boipoka72, sblxo, Josie, RN/LCSW, and 4 others like this.
  4. 0
    Thanks for the info on RN licensure.
  5. 0
    Great information, thank you!
  6. 0
    So, does this work the same if you have a BSN? I am looking to get my BSN in Az, but I want to return to Ca and work. Would the BSN degree allow me to do that, or will I have to get certified in Ca once I return?
  7. 1
    Licensure and education are entirely separate matters. An RN license is an RN license is an RN license, regardless of whether you attended a diploma, ADN, BSN, or MSN program to get licensed.

    You will have to apply for licensure in CA if you want to live and work in CA.

    For that matter, a BSN, by itself, will not permit you to practice nursing in AZ -- you still have to get a license from the state. The BSN (or ADN, or diploma, or MSN) simply qualifies you for licensure.
    Marshall1 likes this.
  8. 0
    Thank you for the info, elkpark. I really appreciate it!
  9. 0
    So if I'm a RN in the state of Georgia but want to look into travel nursing, would I still be able to keep my RN license for Georgia while being a travel nurse? And will being a travel nurse limit me to the compact states? (Note, Georgia is not a compact state)

    I'm looking into travel nursing as a possible career once I finish nursing school and would like to know what my options are or where I can find more reliable information.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edit by hyunjoo82 on Mar 11, '10 : Reason: additions
  10. 0
    Quote from hyunjoo82
    So if I'm a RN in the state of Georgia but want to look into travel nursing, would I still be able to keep my RN license for Georgia while being a travel nurse? And will being a travel nurse limit me to the compact states? (Note, Georgia is not a compact state)

    I'm looking into travel nursing as a possible career once I finish nursing school and would like to know what my options are or where I can find more reliable information.

    Thanks in advance!
    Yes, you can keep your GA license (as long as you pay the fees and meet whatever renewal requirements the GA BON specifies). Since you don't live in a "compact state," the NLC has nothing to do with you. You'll need to get licensed in any state in which you take a travel assignment.

    You'll need a few years of solid experience in a nursing specialty area before you'll be "marketable" as a travel nurse. Have you looked at the Travel Nursing forum here? Lots of good info and discussion there.

    Best wishes for your journey!
  11. 0
    Quote from elkpark
    Yes, you can keep your GA license (as long as you pay the fees and meet whatever renewal requirements the GA BON specifies). Since you don't live in a "compact state," the NLC has nothing to do with you. You'll need to get licensed in any state in which you take a travel assignment.

    You'll need a few years of solid experience in a nursing specialty area before you'll be "marketable" as a travel nurse. Have you looked at the Travel Nursing forum here? Lots of good info and discussion there.

    Best wishes for your journey!
    Thanks for the reply! Your information was very helpful to me. I'll have to check out the travel nursing forum soon. Hopefully it's a career path for me to choose from.


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