Lawmakers will decide if Nurse Practitioners could work independently of doctors in Florida this spring

Lawmakers this spring will again grapple with whether to take the leap and give the additional authority in Florida

Lawmakers will decide if Nurse Practitioners could work independently of doctors in Florida this spring
(Source: Frank Couch/UAB)

Twenty-two states, Washington D.C. and two U.S. territories allow advanced registered nurse practitioners to work independently of physicians. And after years of debate, lawmakers this spring will again grapple with whether to take the leap and give the additional authority in Florida.

The House Health Care Quality Subcommittee this week heard the pros and cons of allowing nurse practitioners to operate independently of doctors and whether it would increase access to care.

Tay Kopanos with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, says states are turning to a number of solutions to increase access to care, including building more medical schools and increasing the number of medical residencies. However, she feels changing licensure laws for nurse practitioners will make the most immediate impact.

“No delay in the benefit to the consumer and the state, and it is the only solution that has a track record of 40 years of success in other states around the country. So, we are seeing more and more states moving in that direction," said Tay Kopanos, American Association of Nurse Practitioners

House Speaker Jose Oliva feels Florida is behind because it doesn’t allow nurses to practice independently of physicians. But taking steps such as granting more authority to advanced registered nurse practitioners has run into opposition from doctors.

The Senate in recent years has also been more reluctant than the House to rewrite rules and regulations surrounding health-care practitioners and facilities.

Advanced registered nurse practitioners have advanced degrees and can work in primary-care environments delivering basic care or in surgical settings administering anesthesia.

“As states are moving forward, they are realizing it’s not going to be one single silver bullet that solves this but it’s really going to be all-of-the-above solutions that are needed," ," said Kopanos.

Florida has more than 29 thousand advanced registered nurse practitioners who have active licenses, according to the latest available data from the state Department of Health.

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