The clock is ticking on the current Nurse Licensure Compact for Wisconsin nurses and health care organizations with the enactment of the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) on July 20 when North Carolina became the 26th state to enact eNLC legislation. The updated compact will go live on January 20, 2018, and if Wisconsin does not join the eNLC before this date, nurses currently enjoying the benefit of a multi-state license – particularly near border states like Iowa – will be forced to apply for a duplicative single-state license in that other state.
WHA’s advocacy of eNLC is aimed at meeting the January 20 deadline Wisconsin’s hospitals, health systems and nurses need, and an important step was achieved this week. Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer have been working with stakeholders, including the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, to draft legislation enacting the updated compact in Wisconsin. On August 2 the lawmakers asked their peers to support legislation to adopt the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) in Wisconsin. As the memo released by Marklein and VanderMeer notes, “The eNLC has received strong support from key stakeholders in Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, the Wisconsin Organization of Nurse Executives (WONE), the Wisconsin Nurses Association (WNA) ….” VanderMeer and Marklein also point to strong support from individual nurses, noting, “When the Board of Nursing solicited feedback from licensed nurses earlier this year regarding maintaining membership in the nurse licensure compact, 98 percent of nurses responded in support of Wisconsin joining the eNLC and maintaining membership in this licensure compact.”
The lawmakers will formally introduce the compact legislation soon. When this happens, WHA will ask hospital advocates to contact their state legislators in support of legislation adopting the eNLC in Wisconsin.
In an email to WHA hospital and health system chief nursing officers, Ann Zenk, WHA vice president of workforce and clinical practice, reassured nurses and nursing leaders: “WHA has been actively working on advancing this legislation, with adoption targeted before the end of 2017.” Zenk’s advice at this time, “Enacting the eNLC in 2017 will ensure a seamless transition for our Wisconsin nurses holding a multi-state license under the current compact. No action is needed by Wisconsin nurses at this time.”
Multi-state licensure is important in border communities, like Platteville, where nearly one in five nurses at the local hospital live in Iowa. The compact also helps assure access to high-quality, high-value health care in Wisconsin by facilitating the use of telemedicine and nurse call lines, enabling Wisconsin hospitals and health systems to address critical workforce gaps through agency staffing and helping to build the nursing workforce through support of online education.
“WHA thanks Representative VanderMeer and Senator Marklein for their advancement of this legislation,” said WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. “Portability of nurse licensure promotes the delivery of accessible, efficient and high-quality health care in Wisconsin by helping to support an adequately staffed health care workforce.”
For additional information on the details of the eNLC, contact Ann Zenk at 608-274-1820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.