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If You Get an RN License in One State, Can You Practice in All States?

Probably the most common question when it comes to getting an RN license is: If I already have an RN license in one state, do I have to get an RN license in another state to practice nursing there? The answer to this question is yes, you do have to get RN licenses in every state you practice in. The reason behind this is that each state has its own standards and requirements for the nursing field. It may seem ridiculous to have to take different RN licensing exams for each state you want to practice nursing in, but it is important for you to know the health practices for the state you will be working as a nurse in. If you do not, then you could make some very costly mistakes.

Of course, this issue may not even come up for you. The only way that this would be an issue for a nurse is if the nurse is moving to another state or the nurse wants to work as a traveling nurse. There is a lot of money in being a traveling nurse, so it is something to look into, especially if the idea of traveling around and seeing the country appeals to you. You will need to decide ahead of time which states you would like to travel to and begin the process of getting your RN license in each of those states. It would be best to limit it to maybe two or three in the beginning. As you get more traveling nursing experience, you may decide to add a few more later on so you can have some change of scenery from time to time.

There are some exceptions to the rule of needing to have RN licenses in each state you want to practice nursing in. If you are a resident of what is called a compact state and you get your RN license from that compact state, you can practice in other compact states. There are currently 24 states, or a little less than half of the country, that is considered a compact state: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states and you get your RN license there, you can practice nursing in any other state on the list. However, if you are not a resident of a compact state and you get an RN license in a compact state, you still have to get RN licenses in other compact states in order to practice nursing there.