Are Registered Nurse RN nursing licenses valid for every state? Or are they only valid for the state you live in? This is a great question that I was recently asked. Here is the full question:
I will be moving to California after I graduate nursing school in December 09, I currently live in Illinois. Do I have to take my NCLEX there in California to work as an RN in California or can I take my boards here in Illinois before I move there, and still work as an RN.
That is such a great question that many nurses will be asking themselves. I too once considered moving, and looked into this matter. So what is the answer: Can you work as a nurse in any state, or will you have to get licensed for each individual state in which you want to work?
Will Nurses Have to Get a New License For Each State If They Move?
There is an organization called the Nurse Licensure Compact Administrators that seek to make it easier for nurses to work in other states. What this organization does is works together with nursing organizations, health leaders, and more from state to state to try and encourage unity.
There is something called a “Nurse Licensure Compact Implementation,” which includes a list of states in which you can use your nursing license in any of them. In general, if you have a nursing license in any of these states, you could theoretically work in any of the others listed as a nurse without having to get re-licensed.
Here is a list of the States in the Nurse Licensure Compact Implementation as of 2010:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
What To Do If You Are Planning To Move to a State That Isn’t On the List
Unfortunately, Illinois and California are not currently a part of this compact agreement. Therefore, it seems as if you may have to re-take the Nclex, or seek some other certification to ensure that you will be able work in California.
Therefore, I would strongly recommend that you not take the Nclex until you actually move to California, or find out what will be required for you to work there. Again, you may want to contact the California Board of Registered Nurses to be sure.
I know that it would be terrible to do all that studying and pay the test fee, and then have to do it all over again in another state! I wish you the best of luck, and I hope everything works out well.