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Pennsylvania to Allow Out-of-State Nurses to Practice

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   August 24, 2023

Pennsylvania nurses, however, must wait for criminal background check authorization before receiving a multistate license.

RNs and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/LVNs) from 38 states and two U.S. territories who hold multistate licenses through the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) will be able to practice in Pennsylvania beginning September 5, 2023.

The compact allows RNs and LPN/LVNs to have one multistate license, with the ability to practice in person or via telehealth, in both their home territory/state and other NLC states.

The move is expected to help address Pennsylvania’s severe nursing shortage and increase healthcare access—both in person and via telehealth—for patients across the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania’s General Assembly authorized its NLC participation with Act 68 of 2021, signed into law by former Gov. Tom Wolf.

"This is a critical first step in the full implementation of the Nurse Licensure Compact," said Al Schmidt, secretary of the commonwealth. "The Department of State continues to work diligently with its state and federal partners to satisfy the preconditions necessary to fully implement the NLC."

Among those preconditions is certifying to other compact states that Pennsylvania's State Board of Nursing has performed an FBI criminal background check on Pennsylvania applicants, a process that requires FBI authorization. The Department of State has sought this authorization and is awaiting a response.

Indeed, licensure requirements are aligned in NLC states, so all nurses applying for a multistate license are required to meet those same standards, including submission to a federal and state fingerprint-based criminal background check.

Once that occurs, Pennsylvania's State Board of Nursing will issue NLC multistate licenses to Pennsylvania nurses, allowing them to practice in compact member states and territories, Schmidt said.

A multistate license eases cross-border practice for many types of nurses who routinely practice with patients in other states, including primary care nurses, case managers, transport nurses, school nurses, hospice nurses, and more. Military spouses who experience moves every few years also benefit from the multistate license. 

The NLC also benefits facilities that might have an acute shortage in one of their units to recruit a nurse for that unit or shift around their resources if they're an interstate facility and moves nurses between different states.

"Anything we can do to attract nursing talent to the state is a win for patients and the commonwealth," said Debra Bogen, MD, acting secretary of health. "Participating in the nursing compact overcomes a barrier to attracting that talent and building our state's healthcare workforce."

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


Joining the NLC is expected to help address Pennsylvania's severe nursing shortage.

The first step begins September 5 by allowing out-of-state nurses to practice.

The next step is certifying to other compact states that Pennsylvania's State Board of Nursing has performed an FBI criminal background check on Pennsylvania applicants.

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