NEW JERSEY– Less than month after streamlining the process for licensed health care professionals from other states to obtain temporary emergency licenses in New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) Tuesday announced that more than 10,615 new licensees are helping meet the State’s healthcare needs during the COVID-19 emergency. In addition, more than 400 retired New Jersey healthcare professionals reactivated their licenses within the last week to support the State’s response to the pandemic.
“We are grateful to the dedicated individuals who have stepped up to assist New Jersey’s doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic,” Grewal said. “Whether they are deploying to New Jersey with the National Guard, returning to practice from retirement, or adding to our healthcare system’s capacity by offering telehealth services, every healthcare professional who joins our ranks makes New Jersey better equipped to fight back against COVID-19.”
Providing temporary emergency licenses to out-of-state healthcare professionals is one of many actions the Division has taken to bolster the number of healthcare professionals joining the State’s response to the public health emergency.
The Division announced on March 19, 2020, that it was offering temporary emergency licenses to individuals who hold current healthcare licenses and certifications in good standing in other jurisdictions, and have been practicing within the last five years. Eligible professionals are able to secure temporary New Jersey licenses by completing a simple form.
Since then, the Division has granted 10,615 temporary licenses to out-of-state healthcare professionals, including professionals deployed to New Jersey with the National Guard and professionals who are offering telehealth services to New Jersey residents remotely from their home States.
More than half of these new licensees are physicians and physician assistants licensed by the state Board of Medical Examiners (3,350), or registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and advanced practice nurses licensed by the state Board of Nursing (2,972). Another 2,273 licensees are mental health professionals, and 117 are respiratory/pulmonary care specialists licensed by other professional boards within the Division.
To further increase the capacity of New Jersey’s healthcare workforce, the Division eased rules for reactivating the licenses of critically needed health care practitioners, providing an instant pathway back to work for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and respiratory therapists, and many others, whose New Jersey licenses are currently retired, expired, or inactive.
Under the streamlined process announced by the Division on April 3, 2020, practitioners whose licenses have been inactive for 5 years or less and remain in good standing can immediately reactivate and temporarily rejoin the workforce to fight COVID-19. In the first 9 days of this program, 464 retired New Jersey healthcare professionals – including 270 nurses and 133 physicians/physician assistants – have answered the call to return to work.
“Doctors, nurses, and others in the trenches of the COVID-19 crisis are facing an unprecedented workload in overstretched health facilities,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Our efforts to expand New Jersey’s pool of qualified healthcare professionals helps to ensure that these frontline workers have the reinforcement and backup they desperately need.”
The reactivation of New Jersey’s retired healthcare professionals implements an executive order signed by Governor Phil Murphy on April 1, 2020, to make it easier for healthcare professionals to enlist in New Jersey’s battle against COVID-19.
That executive order also supplements the State’s existing health care workforce by allowing for the temporary licensure of certain doctors who are licensed in foreign countries, a program that the Division will launch shortly. Additionally, the State has temporarily relaxed scope-of-practice restrictions on Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) so they can practice more independently and be more readily redeployed during the current public health emergency.
The Division also has paved the way for healthcare professionals from other States to prescribe medications for New Jersey residents, if the professional is temporarily licensed in New Jersey as part of the State’s COVID-19 response and is allowed to prescribe elsewhere. These prescribers will no longer need to also register with New Jersey to prescribe controlled dangerous substances, and will be allowed to participate in New Jersey’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
Eligible retirees can reactivate their licenses on the Division’s website by completing a simple form. The Division aims to process each application within one day of submission. After reactivating their licenses, retirees are encouraged to visit the Department of Health’s portal for healthcare professionals who are willing and able to support New Jersey’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Temporary licenses issued to out-of-State healthcare professionals, reactivated retirees, and internationally-trained physicians may remain active until the end of the COVID-19-related emergency declared by Murphy on March 9, 2020.