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State allowed to hire nurses before licensing

Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher

SANTA FE – New Mexico is altering state rules related to the hiring of nurses in hopes of bolstering recruiting and attacking a critical shortage of such personnel in underserved areas of the state.

The state Department of Health announced Monday that state agencies will be able to hire recent nursing graduates who are unlicensed but have obtained short-term permits to practice under the supervision of a licensed nurse or nurse practitioner.

The state Personnel Office already has made changes to minimum qualifications for entry-level nurse positions in state government.

“These changes will help newly graduated nurses gain valuable professional experience while helping to alleviate the critical shortage of healthcare professionals around the state,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement. “Through initiatives like these and others, we’ll continue to build on our progress of improving healthcare for New Mexico’s families.”

All but one of New Mexico’s 33 counties are designated by the federal government as health professional shortage areas.

The state also has created a new classification of job positions that will allow for the hiring of medical assistants to complete administrative and clinical tasks in public health clinics and other state facilities.

DOH Secretary Lynn Gallagher said that updating the hiring requirements “allows us to better capitalize on our relationships with nursing schools here in New Mexico as well as Texas, Colorado and Arizona.

“We can attract, hire and train the next generation of nurses from the ground up, provide more jobs to new nursing graduates across the state, and keep our in-state graduates right here at home in New Mexico.”

State government currently has 148 open nursing positions across New Mexico, 117 of them within DOH, the agency said.

For more information on available nursing jobs, visit the state Personnel Office at or at