South Carolina became the 20th state to join the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact as Governor Henry McMaster signed the SCHA-supported legislation into law on May 11, 2017. This legislation is a major component of SCHA’s strategic initiative to strengthen South Carolina’s healthcare workforce by easing nurse licensing between states to improve access to quality nurses. The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact is modified language of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which South Carolina joined in 2006.
The new provisions of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact include additional transparency in out-of-state background check results and previous work history. The new language will become effective when 26 states have joined or on December 31, 2018, whichever comes first.
The nursing shortage facing South Carolina and the nation has made the availability of nurses exceedingly important. The Nurse Licensure Compact expedites the licensing process from state to state among members, enabling nurses to practice in-person or by telehealth services in states beyond their home licensure state. Membership in the Compact allows a state to exchange information with Boards of Nursing in other member states to efficiently allow a nurse to practice without the costly and time-consuming burdens of a new license.
South Carolina hospitals and health systems greatly benefit from being in a member state of the Compact. In times of disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, nurses can quickly cross state lines to practice in South Carolina to help meet increased demand. Nurses can start in positions quickly to fill gaps and improve patient care in hospitals and outpatient facilities. As a member, the state is more attractive to nursing graduates as they can obtain a multistate licensure in South Carolina and be able to practice in many states.
South Carolina hospitals and patients are strengthened by having a broader pool of qualified nurses able to join healthcare teams throughout the state. The South Carolina Hospital Association is encouraged by the General Assembly’s recognition of the importance of membership in the Compact and support of the nursing workforce.