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Greenwald, Conaway & Stanley Bill to Address Dire Healthcare Workforce Shortages Clears Assembly Health Committee

The Assembly Health Committee today released legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, and Assemblyman Sterley Stanley to combat healthcare workforce shortages by eliminating barriers that prevent qualified applicants from securing a license and finding work in the healthcare field.

New Jersey hospitals are facing a staggering crisis—the healthcare workforce shortage. This issue, which has been worsened by COVID-19 burnout, early retirements, and increased stress exacerbated by existing staffing shortages, has caused hospital staff and medical workers to leave the industry faster than they can be replaced, forcing those who remain to take on larger burdens.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature enacted forms of temporary licensure for healthcare professionals from other states and recent graduates of healthcare training programs. The bill, A-4619, would codify these forms of temporary licensure in state law, allowing professionals to practice for up to one year without holding a license or certification to practice in the state and offering recent graduates’ authorization to practice until they achieve full licensure or fail the licensure examination.

“Our ability to provide the best care available to New Jersey families hinges on our ability to address the workforce shortages plaguing our healthcare industry,” said Majority Leader Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “We must do everything possible to remove barriers that delay qualified, passionate providers, who want to care for our patients, from being able to do so.”

Out-of-state professionals such as alcohol and drug counselors, therapists, counselors, physicians, home health aides, nurses, and various other healthcare professionals would qualify for temporary licensure.

Concerning recent graduates, temporary licensure would be accessible for graduates of a master’s or doctorate program in counseling, a physician assistant training program, a professional or practical nurse training program, a pharmacy training program, a respiratory care training program, or a social work educational program.

“Our healthcare industry is still grappling with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last thing we need to do is reinstate barriers to entry that make it more difficult for qualified applicants to find work,” said Assemblyman Conaway (D-Burlington). “Letting established professionals and recent graduates get to work while waiting on their permanent New Jersey licenses not only helps medical staff, but it also allows our hospitals to meet the needs of our communities.”

The bill amends state law to allow the use of telemedicine and telehealth by out-of-state practitioners authorized to practice under the bill, graduates holding a temporary license under the bill, and alcohol and drug counselor interns authorized to meet their supervised work experience requirements under the bill.

“This legislation gives out-of-state physicians and medical staff the ability to hit the ground running upon moving to New Jersey. Instead of spending months in limbo while navigating license application processes, trained doctors, nurses, and counselors can join the workforce,” said Assemblyman Stanley (D-Middlesex). “It also helps recent graduates get on-the-job experience while preparing for their licensure examination.”

The bill is part of a larger legislative package spearheaded by Majority Leader Greenwald, which was introduced last October.