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Nurses across the United States are expected to see significant demand for their skills in coming years, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but nursing needs are also expected to vary from state to state. For example, the nursing shortage is projected to be most intense in southern and western states in the U.S., according to an article in the journal Public Heath Resources.

Nurses in the U.S. are regulated at the state level, which means prospective nursing students need to consider the requirements of the state in which they wish to practice. In general, licensure requires graduating from a state-approved education program, passing any required licensing exams and meeting other state requirements such as a background check, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. When selecting your nursing program, whether you are attending a campus-based school or an online nursing degree program, be sure to verify that it meets the requirements of the state in which you plan to work.

In many cases, already-licensed nurses who move from one state to another are eligible to apply for a new license by endorsement, which typically means they are not required to take the National Council Licensure Examination again. The Nurse Licensure Compact, or NLC, is a multi-state licensure initiative designed to help nurses move more easily from one state to another. As of 2012, 24 states had signed on to the NLC. Nurses who are legal residents of those states and hold a nursing license in one of those states have practice privileges in other member states, although additional requirements may apply if changing residency.

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