The readers’ forum

Improving access to quality healthcare


Recenty the Florida House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation approved a bill to allow nurse practitioners (NPs) to change their professional title to align with national standards, the ability to practice independently from supervisory protocols with physicians, and controlled substance privilege rights.

I applaud the work of the House committee to create a piece of legislation in line with the needs of the people of Florida to have access to affordable, quality healthcare. This legislation may be novel to Floridians, but it’s not uncommon on a national level. I understand that there may be many misconceptions, so I would like to take a moment to address some of them.

• There is a plethora of scientific research that supports that NPs give the same level of quality care, without sacrificing safety, as compared to their physician counterparts in the same environments.

• According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and echoed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are over 15 states in the country where NPs have full practice authority with no increased safety risks and increased access to quality care.

• There are 49 states, Florida is the only state excluded, where NPs can prescribe controlled substances with similar safety profiles as physicians.

• There is a primary care physician shortage and health care access issue in Florida. NPs are competent, highly-trained, and ready to help alleviate these issues.

• Studies show that supervisory protocol agreements are burdensome and do not improve care for patients, rather only hinder it.

• NPs follow the same guidelines and collaborate with the specialists, just like primary care physicians. This is part of their training and duty to patients.

• Allowing NPs to enter the healthcare marketplace as independent practitioners, will improve access to quality healthcare, while not sacrificing safety. It is likely that the cost of healthcare will also be improved as competition increases.

I urge everyone to contact their legislators and impress upon them the need for better access to affordable, quality healthcare. Nurse Practitioners are competent, safe, and fully trained to participate in serving your primary care needs. Please support this legislation to establish independent nurse practitioner practice.

Thomas Schlepko, board certified family nurse practitioner, Miami

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