April 9th, 2020 | Sterling

COVID-19 and Its Impact on Nursing and the Nurse Licensure Compact

A conversation with Jim Puente, MS, MJ, CAE, Director, Nurse Licensure Compact, National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

Recently, Sterling’s Healthcare team sat down with Jim Puente, Director of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting nurses, and in particular, nursing in states that have implemented the Nurse Licensure Compact.

The NCSBN mission

“The mission of the National Council of State Board of Nursing is to empower and support nursing regulators in their mandate to protect the public,” Puente states.

Currently, 34 states have enacted the Nurse Licensure Compact, and 33 have implemented it.


Source: Interstate Commission of Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators

How COVID-19 impacts nursing and the Compact

“COVID-19 has impacted licensure to a large extent due to the demand for nurses in all states, and furthermore by the measures various governors have taken to enable nurses from other states to practice in their state,” Puente relates.

Several states have temporarily relaxed and/or modified the requirements around occupational licensing laws in emergency situations – all in an effort to have enough qualified healthcare professionals at facilities to support the anticipated onslaught of patients afflicted with the coronavirus.

Still other states have answered the call to action and responded in more specific ways. The National Conference of State Legislatures recently published an article that includes a list of states that have responded, as well as a detailed list of actions specific states have taken.

“NCSBN tries its best to stay abreast of all developments,” states Puente. “Its leadership meets daily to keep each other abreast of what is happening in the environment. We constantly reassess our resources available to not only NCSBN members, but also to the nursing community at large.”

Short-term impact

Puente outlined that nurses with a multistate license are readily authorized to practice in 33 NLC states to assist with COVID-19 cases. To practice in non-compact states, he suggests that nurses check to see if that particular state has waived licensure or exempted some of the requirements to make it easier for nurses to assist there.

Long-term effects

It remains to be seen how long the COVID-19 crisis will last. Nevertheless, many NLC advocates in noncompact states are already expressing that they wish they had passed the NLC legislation. Then it would be easier for nurses to come to their state to assist, without impediment. The crisis is expected to be an impetus for further states to join the NLC in the upcoming legislative sessions.

“Personally, I have only seen smaller-scale disasters such as a hurricane or tornado that impacted one or a few states,” Puente relates. “In those situations, which have happened in both NLC states and noncompact states, it’s wonderful to see that the NLC states were able to welcome nurses from 30+ states immediately to assist with the care of those impacted by the disaster.”

Insights and recommendations

Puente recommends that healthcare talent acquisition professionals stay abreast of changes in licensure requirements in each state in the following ways:

  1. Verify a nurse’s license status at Nursys.com using the Quick confirm feature.
  2. In some cases, for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or temporary licenses, hiring professionals may need to verify the license status on the website of the state board of nursing that issued the license.
  3. Review the compiled list of state by state licensure waivers and exemptions, which is posted on NCSBN’s website here under “State Emergency Response.” The decisions by governors to temporarily remove some of the regulatory barriers to allow nurses from other states to practice in their state are ongoing. The compiled list is being updated regularly as a result of the changes.
  4. Each governor that put relief measures in place for nurse practice likely also established an end date for those measures, as they are intended to be temporary. Stay abreast of the end date because in some cases, it may be a moving target.

As a point of reference, Sterling verifies license with the originating source of information – state licensing boards.

Sterling’s Healthcare team is here to help

Sterling’s Healthcare screening experts are staying up to date with evolving changes to regulations at the federal, state, and local levels, and regularly communicating this information to clients.

Additionally, the team is helping hospitals, healthcare systems, and assisted-living communities increase their onboarding capacity to meet the growing demand for healthcare professionals, as well as meet newly mandated requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sterling has been able to leverage proprietary technology and automation in order to help firms speed the time to hire to get needed workers into wards more quickly.

In order to free up hospital staff to deploy in-patient support, Sterling has taken over management of the drug and health screening program for several healthcare organizations. Our experts work with the candidate, the employer and the clinic/lab to make sure the new hire is tested, and results are delivered in a timely fashion. In instances where there are candidate concerns about going into clinics, Sterling is recommending the client adopt an instant, point of collection testing process.

To learn more about Sterling Healthcare solutions, visit www.sterlingcheck.com/healthcare or email us at SterlingHealthcare@sterlingcheck.com.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.