Already up and running in 31 states, a proposed New Jersey law would allow the state to join a compact that allows out-of-state nurses to work here without jumping through hoops, and vice versa.

Most recently advanced by an Assembly panel, the measure would place New Jersey into the multistate Nurse Licensure Compact, which would remove the mandate that nurses obtain a license in every state in which they wish to practice as long as that state is part of the agreement.

"It allows our nurses more mobility,"Judy Schmidt, CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, told New Jersey 101.5. "It also helps our nurses who may be doing tele-health nursing. They don't have to get a second, third, fourth or fifth license in other states."

And with the state staring down a nursing shortage in labor and delivery, operating rooms, and home health areas, Schmidt added, this legislation would be a big help.

Currently, if an out-of-state nurse wished to join New Jersey's workforce, the application and licensing process could take up to six months, Schmidt said.

New Jersey had been involved in a prior version of the NLC, but that law expired more than a decade ago.

Delaware and Maryland are among the states involved in the current NLC. Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut are not, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Kansas and Lousiana will join the compact July 1. New Jersey is one of four states with pending NLC legislation.

"Like many states, New Jersey needs more nurses," New Jersey Business & Industry Association Vice President Tony Bawidamann said in support of the legislation. "Mandating staffing levels doesn't do any good if we don't have the professionals to staff the facilities in the first place. This bill makes it easier for professional nurses to work in New Jersey, which will make it easier for us to start reducing our nursing shortage."

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