Oklahoma has become one of the first states to enact the enhanced NLC, joining Florida, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming as a member. The House Bill 2482 was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on April 26, 2016.
Allowing nurses to have mobility across state borders, the enhanced NLC increases access to care while maintaining public protection. The enhanced NLC, which is an updated version of the current NLC, allows for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in both their home state and other NLC states. The enhanced NLC will come into effect the sooner of 26 states passing the enhanced NLC legislation or Dec. 31, 2018. All states, including those participating in the existing NLC, must introduce legislation in the coming years to enter into the enhanced NLC.
Susan Jones, PhD, APRN-CNS, Oklahoma Board of Nursing President notes, “Participation in multistate licensure is something that Oklahoma nurses have been asking about for quite some time, and with the language in the enhanced compact they will have the opportunity. It is exciting to have been able to work with the Oklahoma Board of Nursing staff and leadership and our state legislature to ensure that the safety needs of patients and the practice flexibility of nurses will be soon be available in Oklahoma.”
Patient safety being of paramount importance led to the addition of new features found in the provisions of the legislation of the enhanced NLC. Licensing standards are aligned in enhanced NLC states so all nurses applying for a multistate license are required to meet the same standards, which include a federal and state criminal background check that will be conducted for all applicants applying for multistate licensure.
Rep. Pat Ownbey commented, “This legislation is a giant step forward for Oklahoma’s health care system. The new law will allow nurses practicing in and out of our state the flexibility in moving to where the greatest health needs exist while keeping patient safety intact. I’m certainly proud to be a part of this effort.”
The enhanced NLC enables nurses to provide telehealth nursing services to patients located across the country without having to obtain additional licenses. In the event of a disaster, nurses from multiple states can easily respond to supply vital services. Additionally, almost every nurse, including primary care nurses, case managers, transport nurses, school and hospice nurses, among many others, needs to routinely cross state boundaries to provide the public with access to nursing services, and a multistate license facilitates this process.
“It is great to play a part in moving health care forward in Oklahoma,” said Sen. Frank Simpson. “This legislation will give nurses across Oklahoma more opportunities to cross borders without barriers. As a senator from a border district, this provides our hospitals the ability to be more competitive in the nursing field.”
Boards of nursing (BONs) were the first health care provider regulatory bodies to develop a model for interstate practice with the original adoption of the NLC in 1997 and its implementation in 2000. While other health care provider regulatory bodies are just getting started in this process, the NLC has been operational and successful for more than 15 years.