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Thousands of recent graduates of health care programs can join the fight against COVID-19 while waiting to take licensing exams, following recent action by the state government.
The emergency graduate licensure program was inspired by a letter sent to Gov. Murphy and state legislators by the Hazlet Township Committee in April, pointing out that local nursing students had been sidelined for months due to cancelation of their scheduled license exams during the pandemic. At Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, 50 newly minted nurses were waiting to get to work.
“The lack of this exam has sidelined this potential resource, just when nurses are needed most,” wrote Hazlet Township Committeeman James McKay, who is also a volunteer on the Hazlet First Aid squad.
The emergency graduate licensure program is open to individuals applying for licensure within six months of graduating from these programs: accredited registered professional nursing (RN); practical nursing (LPN); physician assistant; pharmacy education and training located in New Jersey; and accredited respiratory care therapy education and training located in any state.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs said it would begin accepting applications for the emergency graduate licensure program starting May 5.
“On behalf of the Hazlet Township Committee and its citizens, we are grateful for the swift response,” said McKay. “This action will add fresh and well-trained health care professionals to the fight in which we are deeply engaged.”
Individuals will not be eligible for the emergency graduate licensure program if they have failed the relevant licensing examination and will be dropped from the program if they fail the exam after receiving an emergency graduate license, officials said.
With the exception of respiratory care therapists, graduates licensed through the program will be eligible to work only under supervision in an acute care facility licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health. Respiratory care specialists will also be authorized to work under supervision in field hospitals, the state said.
The program will end automatically at the conclusion of the COVID-19 state of emergency and public health emergency, or earlier.
The Division has waived application fees for the emergency temporary license. Graduates can apply for a temporary emergency graduate license online on the Division’s website.
The Hazlet Township Committee thanked Congressman Frank Pallone, Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso for their efforts to bring the issue to the Governor’s attention. The township sent a thank you letter to the Governor on May 12, and repeated a separate plea to help first responder volunteers handle financial difficulties that arise if they get quarantined or ill from COVID-19.