Changes and Delays Plague the NJ Board of Nursing

It is no secret that the New Jersey Board of Nursing has been in crisis.  Currently, there are approximately 4,000 applicants of nurses and home health care aides whose applications have been pending for many months.  This at a time when the State is in dire need of such health care talents.

In July of this year, the Board’s Executive Director, Dorothy Smith Carolina abruptly resigned citing a “staffing crisis” and lack of cash to pay for personnel necessary to make the Board work efficiently.

A majority of the Board members signed a July 25 letter directed to the Governor citing the Board’s deficiencies and need for personnel.  In the words of Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), “The inability of this vital State Board to carry out its mission is effecting families and the strength of the State’s health care system.  This situation must be remedied immediately.”

In October, Governor Christie responded.  He named approximately a dozen nurses and other observers to serve on the nursing board less than a week before lawmakers were scheduled to discuss the vacancies and their effect on the citizens of New Jersey.  Missing from the appointments was the appointment of the Board’s president, Patricia Murphy who was “relieved of her duties”.

Murphy was removed from her position and testified before the State Senate, that, “The division has not filed any of the positions that are vacated by professionals with professionals.” 

Some senators are calling for a total overhaul of the Department and requesting outsiders provide an objective assessment. 

Critics of the Governor’s appointments point out that only one Board staff member has actual nursing experience.  Many of the staff members assigned to the Board also report to managers elsewhere creating inefficiencies and potential conflicts, observers allege.   

Former president Murphy advised the New Jersey State Senate that the Board needs a full-time executive director, a position that has been filled by an acting employee-whom the speakers praised for her efforts – ever since former executor director Dorothy Smith Carolina left in frustration earlier this year.