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So You Got an Out-of-State Job Offer … Now What?


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If it were up to us, we’d probably all choose a job just down the block from our homes in Utah within easy walking distance. Commuting can be a pain in the neck, and relocating is often worse! Sadly, it’s not just up to us, and sometimes an attractive job offer can come from across state lines.

As a nurse, when you get a job offer from another state, what should you do?

Consider life logistics first

When a medical professional crosses state lines, there are often a bevy of professional issues that need to be handled, and we’ll be talking about those in a bit. First and foremost, think about how the logistics of this new job might work with the rest of your life.

Is the job close enough that you can commute to it from your current home without having to spend hours in the car every day? If you have to relocate, what is the cost of living like in areas nearer to your new workplace? If you have a spouse or children, how will it affect their career options and schooling?

These are all questions you need to ask yourself. Relocating is a significant life event, and it shouldn’t be done on a whim. If relocating or long commutes are simply not practical for you at this point in your life, then maybe this job isn’t for you. Make sure you’ve given the personal side of things some serious thought and done some research before you commit to anything.

Related Resource: The 5 States that Pay Nurses the Most

See if the Nurse Licensure Compact affects your state

If you’ve determined that the job is worth uprooting yourself (or enduring long commute hours), it’s time to look at the professional side of things. Whether an RN or NP, as a nurse, you’ve already worked hard to get your professional license that legally allows you to work in your current home state. While a driver’s license from Minnesota lets you drive on the roads in California, nursing licenses don’t work that way — when you move to another state, there’s a good chance you’ll need to get a new license.

There is an exception to this, however. RN licenses in the 25 states that have joined the Nurse Licensure Compact work (mostly) like driver’s licenses. If your primary state of residence (where you file your tax return) and work location are both compact states, you won’t have to get a new license at all. A compact license from Arizona means you can cross the border and work in New Mexico every day, with no additional paperwork needed. If you’re moving states, you’ll still have to get a new compact license in your new state, but you’ll have a grace period where you can continue working in the meantime.

Of course, things get a little more complicated when non-compact states enter the mix. If you live in a compact state and want to work in a non-compact state, you still have to get a license for that specific state. If you live in a non-compact state and want to get a license to be a nurse in a compact state, it’s still only good for that specific state!

In other words, if you live in Utah (compact), you can automatically practice and work in Colorado, New Mexico, or Arizona (all part of the compact), but if you want to work in Nevada (non-compact), you need a Nevada nursing license. If you live in Nevada, you can get a license to work in Arizona, but it won’t let you also work in Utah. If any of these states apply, it’s a good idea to take a more in-depth look at the Nurse Licensure Compact, just in case.

While all of this is true for RNs, and to a lesser extent for LPNs and LVNs, advanced practice nurses are not eligible for the compact and must get a new license entirely because of differing standards from state to state.

Related Resource: Becoming a Registered Nurse: The Steps You’ll Take and Requirements You’ll Need

Get your new license

If you’re moving, not living or working in a compact state, or don’t have a career path covered by the compact, you need to get a brand-new state license. Fortunately, this path usually isn’t too painful.

Start by contacting the Board of Nursing in your new work state and looking up any requirements for your new license. In most states, you’ll be required to provide proof of your education and current license. Because the requirements are different, this process can be more of a headache for NPs, so make sure you know everything you’ll need to know before you get started.

It’s important to start on the paperwork early, ideally one or two months before you make the move. It would be terrible to get all settled into your new home and not be able to work! There are tons of resources to guide you through the licensing process in your new state. Don’t panic; you’re not the first person to go through this and you won’t be the last. The Board of Nursing in your new state should have resources if you get stuck.

Related Resource: The Top 10 Locations to Work as a Travel Nurse

Start working in your new state

Whether you’re loading up the truck and driving to a new place or just changing your commute, you’re now ready to start your new job in your new state! Best of luck to you in the new position.

Do you have any other tips for nurses moving across state lines? Share them on our Facebook page!