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Nurses’ Group Lobbies for Telemedicine Licensure

The compact, similar to an interstate licensing framework eyed for doctors, would give nurses the freedom to participate in multi-state telemedicine programs.

By Eric Wicklund

- A licensing compact that would allow nurses to practice telemedicine across state lines has now been adopted by six states.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, a Chicago-based non-profit consisting of 59 nursing boards, is hoping its new Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact and Advanced Practice Nurse Compact will gain as much momentum as a similar compact for doctors. To publicize the effort, the NCSBN is hosting a reception this Friday at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

Unveiled in 2015 to meet “the growing need for nurse mobility and clarification of the authority to practice for many nurses currently engaged in telenursing or interstate practice,” the Enhanced NLC enables registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/VNs) to have one license that’s good in any member state, enabling them to provide telemedicine nursing services across state lines. The APRN Compact allows an advanced practice registered nurse (for example, a nurse practitioner) to hold one multi-state license with a privilege to practice in other compact states.

The compact also establishes an interstate commission and set guidelines for uniform licensing requirements and criminal background checks.

Wyoming, Virginia, South Dakota, Idaho, Florida and Tennessee have approved the new compact, and nine other states are considering legislation.

"We are pleased with the progress we've made in just three short months and look forward to the prospect of adding more states to the NLC this year and in 2017," Elliot Vice, director of government affairs at NCSBN, told Politico this week.

NCBSN rules stipulate that the new compact will take effect upon adoption by 26 states or at the end of 2018, whichever comes first.

Some 25 states have adopted an earlier version of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which was launched in 1997 and doesn’t specifically cover telemedicine services.

“The enhanced NLC and APRN Compact enables nurses to provide telehealth nursing services to patients located across the country without having to obtain additional licenses,” the organization states on its website. “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, need to routinely cross state boundaries to provide the public with access to nursing services, and a multistate license facilitates this process.”

The American Telemedicine Association has signaled its support for the compact, much as it has for the compact aimed at doctors. NCSBN officials say some 25 organizations have come out in support of the compact.

“Passage of the NLC and APRN Compacts will empower nurses to participate in and benefit from a variety of innovative service delivery models featuring a multidisciplinary team approach to provide and coordinate a patient’s care. Patients will reap the ultimate rewards of these efforts,” ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous said in an October 2015 press release.

The doctor-facing version of the compact, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, was launched in 2013 by the Federation of State Medical Boards, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit comprised of more than 70 medical and osteopathic boards. That compact became official in May 2015, upon adoption by a seventh state. Twelve states now support the compact, with another 14 considering legislation.


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