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Governor Susana Martinez Announces Directives Aimed at Hiring More Nurses Throughout New Mexico

Revised Guidelines Will Help Recruit more Nurses, particularly in Rural and Underserved Areas

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced revised guidelines to state nurse hiring requirements aimed at hiring more nurses, particularly in rural and underserved areas throughout New Mexico. With these changes, state agencies will be able to hire newly graduated, unlicensed nurses who have obtained short-term permits to practice under the supervision of a licensed nurse or nurse practitioner, which will help combat the nursing shortage in New Mexico. Additionally, the state has created a new classification of job positions for medical assistants. These new guidelines will continue to build on Governor Martinez’s efforts to bolster New Mexico’s healthcare workforce in communities across the state.

“Our nursing professionals are an important part of delivering the high-quality healthcare our families and communities need and deserve,” Governor Martinez said. “These changes will help  newly graduated nurses gain valuable professional experience while helping to alleviate the critical shortage of healthcare professionals around the state. New Mexico’s efforts to bolster our healthcare workforce continue to be models for other states. Through initiatives like these and others, we’ll continue to build on our progress of improving healthcare for New Mexico’s families.”

Under the Governor’s direction, the State Personnel Office (SPO) has made changes to minimum qualifications for entry-level nurse positions in state government. These changes allow state agencies to hire newly graduated, unlicensed nurses that have obtained a short-term permit to practice from the New Mexico Board of Nursing.

Under the new job classification created by SPO, the state will hire medical assistants to complete administrative and clinical tasks in public health clinics and state healthcare facilities. Medical assisting is fast-growing career field. Many medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate or learn through on-the-job training. This change will increase the state’s capacity to provide critical healthcare services to residents.

“Updating these hiring requirements is critical for the Department of Health.  It allows us to better capitalize on our relationships with nursing schools here in New Mexico as well as Texas, Colorado and Arizona,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “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.”

New Mexico is a large, rural state that has experienced a shortage in primary care and family practice providers for quite some time. In fact, 32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties are designated by the federal government as Health Professional Shortage Areas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022. State government currently has 148 open nursing positions across New Mexico, 117 of which are within NMDOH.

This directive will help build on a series of Governor Martinez’s initiatives to bolster New Mexico’s healthcare workforce. Among others, these initiatives include:

  • Enacting a statewide voluntary community health worker training and certification program;
  • Expanding access to telemedicine services;
  • Growing the number of residency slots at UNM for Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, General Surgery, and Community Medicine Physicians, as well as nurse practitioner slots;
  • Increasing loan-for-service programs and loan repayment efforts to recruit more nurses and nurse practitioners, doctors and other healthcare professionals to New Mexico;
  • Training more dentists; and
  • Developing a common nursing curriculum across the state so that colleges and universities can train more qualified nurses.

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

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