New Jersey issuing temporary emergency licenses to international doctors to bolster workforce

A physician in scrubs in a hospital hallway
Physicians who are licensed in another country but living in the U.S. can now apply for a temporary emergency license to practice medicine in New Jersey. (Getty/NanoStockk)

The state of New Jersey plans to enlist internationally licensed physicians to bolster its healthcare workforce amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to New Jersey state officials, it's the first program of its kind in the country.

Physicians who are licensed in another country but living in the U.S. can now apply for a temporary emergency license to practice medicine in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement Friday.

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs will begin accepting applications for the program on its website.

"New Jersey is the first state in the nation to fully embrace the tremendous wealth of international knowledge and experience to help us on our own front lines," Murphy said in a statement. "This will create a pathway for foreign-licensed physicians to put their skills to use in our state when and where they are needed most. Every member of our diverse New Jersey family has a role to play in our fight against COVID-19."

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Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said having a new infusion of physicians to supplement those who need a break or have fallen ill is vital to the state's ongoing effort to flatten the curve of the virus.

The program is open to individuals living and authorized to work in the U.S. who are currently licensed, in good standing, to practice medicine in another country.

Eligible candidates must have engaged in the clinical practice of medicine for at least five years, have not been out of practice for more than five years and have no disciplinary or criminal histories that preclude them from the program, according to state officials.

Foreign-licensed physicians must also provide copies of relevant documents to support their application, including their medical license and information about their education and professional experience.

Physicians licensed under this program will be required to limit their practice of medicine in New Jersey to providing in-person medical care at facilities licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health or at another location designated as an emergency healthcare center by the commissioner of health.

The temporary emergency licenses granted under the program will not extend beyond the current public health emergency, according to the state.

The state is working with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) along with its Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research to help confirm the authenticity of certain credential information for internationally licensed physicians seeking a temporary medical license in New Jersey.

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The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is waiving application fees, and the board of medical examiners will review applications on an expedited basis. Applications from foreign-licensed physicians holding certifications issued by ECFMG will be fast-tracked, state officials said.

ECFMG also is continuing a dialogue with the state department on processing visas for more than 4,200 newly matched international physicians seeking to join U.S. residencies July 1.

These residents continue to face several obstacles that may inhibit their ability to fill those spots at teaching hospitals across the country because of the COVID-19 crisis, according to ECFMG