By Capt. Scott C. Gibney, US Navy (Ret.), Co-owner Gibney College Solutions LLC
The life of a service member and their family frequently involves change-of-station orders that can mean disruptions as they move from state to state or overseas. Every few years, boxes need to be packed, goodbyes said, and a household established in a new community. In many cases, the move means another job loss for a military spouse.
The mobility of the military family is a key factor in the high unemployment of spouses. The unemployment rate for military spouses is about 24%, much higher than that of the general population. Deployments and different work schedules—common in a military career—can also cause complications for spouses who are employed outside of the home.
One factor leading to the loss of a job is the disparate requirements that individual states have when it applies to licensure requirements for various professions. Occupational licenses for healthcare professionals, teachers, attorneys and real estate agents, to name a few, can differ significantly by state and result in a spouse being unable to meet those requirements. Bringing a license into compliance in a new state can take months (or more) and be cost prohibitive.
In 2020, the Department of Defense authored a report entitled, “Military Spouse Licensure: State Best Practices and Strategies for Achieving Reciprocity.” Although licensing requirements are maintained at the state level, the report looked to provide best practices along with recommended improvements. Criteria was also developed to assess each state’s licensing practices.
The director for the department’s defense-state liaison office, Marcus Beauregard, noted that, “Implementing licensure portability measures will help to reduce employment barriers for military spouses, improving military family stability and quality of life. More than one-third of military spouses work in occupations that require licenses. Reducing the burden of licensure will also increase the pool of applicants in critical career fields experiencing shortages, such as healthcare and teaching, especially in military communities.”
The federal government views military spouse employment as a contributing factor to economic growth. That second salary can provide financial stability while a service member is on active duty and when the member transitions out of the military into a civilian occupation. A recent US Department of Labor update noted that “states are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with unprecedented measures. One of those is to ensure that licensing restrictions in this time of crisis do not create shortages in the healthcare workforce. Legislatures (through statutes) and governors (through declarations and executive orders) are opening up opportunities for healthcare professionals to meet the needs of Americans.”
Operational readiness is paramount for military success. Addressing the challenges of military life for the families of service members enhances this readiness. The continued effort to help military spouses transfer their hard-earned licenses and certifications during a move is an important element in helping to retain service members and to keep the focus on the military mission.
Specific state changes for licensing include:
- Arizona’s governor is allowing the Office of Health Services to waive licensing requirements to provide healthcare officials with assistance in delivering services during times of heightened demand.
- California is allowing out-of-state professionals to provide services.
- Connecticut now allows temporary permits, waiver of fees, and practice prior to licensing for some medical professionals.
- Georgia allows the granting of temporary, limited licenses to nurses before they have taken a licensing exam.
- Hawaii allows physicians and physicians’ assistants who are licensed in other states to work in Hawaii state agencies or hospitals.
- Maryland is recognizing licenses of out-of-state/inactive professionals.
- Massachusetts’ declaration allows boards to make rules to recognize licenses of out-of-state
- professionals and to expedite licensing for new professionals.
- Michigan has liberalized its scope-of-practice and supervision rules for medical professionals and allows professionals licensed in other states to practice within its borders.
- Nevada now requires licensing boards to waive practice requirements for qualified professionals who are licensed in other states.
- New York is allowing license recognition for some out-of-state professionals and expanding the scope of some professionals by removing supervisory restrictions.
- North Carolina is temporarily waiving licensing requirements for out-of-state
- healthcare professionals.
- South Carolina is expediting temporary licensing for some out-of-state medical professionals.
- Texas is directing regulatory boards to expedite licensing recognition for out-of-state medical professionals.
- Wisconsin has eliminated a variety of barriers to labor-market entry for medical professionals.
Captain Scott Gibney, USN (Ret.) is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and a 30-year U.S. Navy veteran. He and his wife, Susan, own Gibney College Solutions LLC (www.gibneysolutions.com) a company focused on college planning, career development and financial coaching. Scott can be reached at [email protected]