June 07, 2010

Missouri joins compact allowing nurses to practice in multiple states, helping ease nurse shortages

Agreement with other states will also help police the profession

Jefferson City, Mo. - As of June 1, Missouri is part of a national system that allows nurses' licenses to be recognized in other states. The change means nurses licensed in other participating states will be able to practice here, and nurses with a Missouri license can practice in those states.

Gov. Jay Nixon in 2009 signed Senate Bill 296, which made Missouri part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Regulations written by the State Board of Nursing created the June 1 effective date.

The NLC also requires participating states to use the Nursys database, which allows states to exchange information about nurses who have been disciplined. This allows Missouri to remove or deny licenses from nurses who have violated laws and regulations in other states.

"This compact modernizes nursing enforcement and removes regulatory barriers," said Lori Scheidt, executive director of the State Board of Nursing. "It helps employers hire safe, competent, licensed nurses and helps the Board of Nursing's mission of protecting consumers, patients and the public."

Scheidt says by recognizing nurses licensed in border states, the Nursing Compact will improve job opportunities for nursing graduates in Missouri and help to address the nursing shortage facing much of the United States. She says it will also help improve access to health care for rural Missourians.

Developed in 1997 by the National Conference of State Boards of Nursing, the NLC is based on the concept of mutual recognition of nurse licensure. Under the NLC, nurses hold one license in their state of residency and are able to practice in the other NLC states, provided that they follow the state nursing practice act where the care is provided.

Currently, 24 states participate in the NLC. Licensees or applicants, as well as consumers with complaints, can contact the Missouri State Board of Nursing at 573-751-0681 or visit pr.mo.gov.