Career Spouse 101

Ask Reda: License Portability

Photo Credit: Army Medicine

Dear Reda,

I will be moving to Fort Dix next month. I am a Registered Nurse currently licensed in MN. I applied for NJ nursing license thru endorsement in July. Still have not received it. NJ license can take 3-6 months. I heard NJ provides temporary license to military spouses.  I called the NJ Nursing board and no one is aware of this. Can you help? 

Dear MilSpouse,

Licensing issues are probably one of the biggest sources of frustration out there for military spouses seeking to maintain a career. Over the past three years, significant strides have been made to try and address this very serious issue, but there is much more to be done.

The issue is made even more complicated by the fact that even among the 40ish states currently working to tackle this issue, the efforts vary widely-it’s hard to keep track! When I need up-to-date information about general licensing issues, the first two places I turn are (1) the DOD’s USA4MilitaryFamilies Page, and (2) the National Military Families Association license portability tracker. But those are really just a place to start, with general information state-by-state. There are other resources for specific professions, like Military One Source’s license transfer page, and the Military Spouse JD Network’s Rule Change page, but for most professions, state-by-state research is required.


 

This may seem like a round-about way to answer to your question, but bear with me. The process is one that I hope you and others can follow to find answers in the future. There are generally four steps involved in creating a licensing accommodation for military spouses: (1) a decision by the state (or sometimes state supreme court, in the case of lawyers) to do so; (2) a directive to the licensing body to develop a process for doing so; (3) the development of a process for doing so; and (4) the actual implementation of the process for doing so.

My research on your particular question, MilSpouse, started with the New Jersey legislature. I learned that Assembly Bill 2889, providing for “temporary nurse licensure for qualified nonresident military spouses,” passed on December 3, 2012. The bill instructs the New Jersey Board of Nursing to adopt rules and regulations for issuing a “temporary courtesy license” to military spouses who are practicing nurses. So that’s Steps (1) and (2) down.

Next, I researched whether New Jersey had developed a “temporary courtesy license.” I learned that the State Board of Nursing proposed a process on June 2, 2014, and the deadline for public comment on that process was August 1, 2014.  That means New Jersey has now completed Step (3) as well.


 

BUT. I have not found any updates on the status of the “temporary courtesy license” proposal since the comment period closed on August 1. That means, at least as far as I can tell, Step (4) still needs to be completed before military spouses can seek this accommodation in New Jersey. So I’m sorry to say, at least right now, the New Jersey “temporary courtesy license” is not ready for prime time. Keep an eye on it, though, and call the New Jersey State Board of Nursing if you would like additional information about the status of the accommodation. I know your previous calls were not fruitful, but sometimes just knowing what proposal to ask about makes all the difference in how helpful a licensing authority is in answering your questions. 

Understanding the steps in the process of developing a licensing accommodation is important because it helps you know where to engage. At Steps (1) and (2), talk to state legislators about the issue, make sure it’s on their radar. At Step (3), participate in the hearings, or submit written comments about why you think this is important. And if you happen to be one of the luck milspouses who’s state is already at Step (4) for your profession, don’t forget to say thank you to the people/organizations that made it possible. Appreciation breeds even more action to help military families!

 

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