TAMPA, Fla. — If you've tried to make an appointment to get in to see your physician, you might find your primary care provider is booked two months out. That makes it hard when you're sick to get the care that you would prefer.
And it’s only going to be more difficult since Florida is expected to be short 7,000 physicians by 2025.
A bill that would make it possible for a nurse practitioner to see you without a doctor's supervision just passed a Florida House committee.
It’s known as HB 821 in the House and SB 972 in the Florida Senate. The Health Care Practitioners bill would allow autonomous practice for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). That category includes Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP), Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS).
Nurse practitioners like Janet DuBois have advanced degrees. As she points out, they are the only health care professionals that have this supervision mandate with their level of education.
”Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, all these other professions are not supervised by medicine or any other profession. They’re their own profession and have their own rules and regulations and statutes, and they don’t need a protocol under any other health provider," DuBois explained.
Jean Aertker, the executive director of the Florida Nurse Practitioner Network says the technology has changed.
“We have telehealth now," Aertker said. "We have robotic surgeries now. We need physicians doing physicians’ care where they’re most needed.”
There are 22 states plus Washington, D.C., that allow nurse practitioners to have full practice authority. Ones like Florida are considered restricted practice. Click on this map for a full explanation.
Studies have shown there's no decline in care in the states where nurse practitioners have full practice authority. Idaho was the first to allow it back in 1971.
House Bill 821 passed the Health and Human Services Committee.
Advocates like DuBois and Aertker want to see the Senate's committee take up SB 972.
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