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Out-of-state nurses can work in Pennsylvania starting Sept. 5

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA

Nurses licensed in other states will be able to provide in-person and telehealth care to Pennsylvanians starting Sept. 5. However, a nurse with only a Pennsylvania license still cannot practice in other states.

The Nurse Licensure Compact allows registered nurses and licensed practical nurses to have one multistate license that allows them to work in the state where they live as well as the other jurisdictions within the compact — which comprises 41 states and territories, including Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania's implementation of the compact has been a long time coming: The process began in July 2021, when then-governor Tom Wolf signed legislation to join the compact in light of ongoing nursing shortages. Pennsylvania's taken more than two years to enact the first phase, which permits out-of-state nurses with a compact license to work here.

"By drawing more nurses to PA, the Nurse Licensure Compact will help ensure that, at this very critical time, our hospitals are amply staffed and that our nurses are able to give the care they want and have been trained to give," said Maureen May, a registered nurse and president of Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.

In order for Pennsylvania nurses to practice in other states, the commonwealth still needs full compact approval. To do so, it must meet certain regulatory requirements, such as other compact states being able to certify that Pennsylvania's State Board of Nursing has performed FBI criminal background checks on Pennsylvania applicants.

The slow progress has been frustrating for state Sen. Lisa Boscola. The Democrat, who represents parts of Lehigh and Northampton counties, was the bill's primary sponsor and said implementation should not have taken so long: "It's just red tape, and it's just awful. And it's time to stop the nonsense."

Boscola said she's grateful that the Shapiro Administration is taking the issue seriously, as she believes the previous administration didn't prioritize the matter. She noted that the state of Washington's governor signed legislation to join the compact in April of this year and that just three months later, Washington started allowing out-of-state nurses to practice there.

Sarah Boden