TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis’ bill allowing honorably discharged veterans with certain medical training to more quickly enter the health care field as licensed practical nurses passed the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday. The bill, Matsikoudis says, addresses the state’s critical nursing shortages and helps veterans transition to civilian careers.
“For many of our veterans, as well as nurses, they answered a calling and their service extends beyond the job description. Crediting veterans for medical training they already received so they can more easily pursue a rewarding career as a licensed practical nurse just makes sense, especially as we look for solutions to the state’s nursing shortages,” Matsikoudis (R-Union) said.
According to health officials and educators, there are not enough students currently enrolled in nursing schools to compensate for the large numbers of nurses who will be leaving the workforce soon, which is estimated to be about 20% to 30%. The shortages in nursing are being exacerbated by Covid burnout and early retirements. New Jersey will have the third largest nurse shortage in the country by 2030 — a shortage of more than 11,000 people, reports the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Under the bill (A2722), veterans who completed nursing, medic, health care, medical technician or similar programs while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces would be recognized as meeting certain education requirements. A licensed practical nurse program at a nursing school typically takes a year to complete.
“It’s time New Jersey recognizes the training and extensive experience veterans received while in the military and apply that to in-demand job requirements,” Matsikoudis said. “Licensed practical nurses enter the field to make a difference and support doctors and other nurses in the care of patients. Veterans are a natural fit.”