Autonomy for nurse practitioners, finally

Nurse practitioners sitting in the chamber of the FL State House of Representatives, on the opening day of the legislative session on Jan. 14, 2020. Credit: Laura Cassels.

A landmark bill for autonomy of nurse practitioners has been approved by the Florida Legislature during the 2020 session and now awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.

Legislation authorizing nurse practitioners, sometimes referred to as advanced practice registered nurses, to practice independently of doctors passed on a 107-8 vote in the Florida House on Wednesday.

The legislation, HB 607, was a major priority for House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Miami Republican, who has expressed public support and selected a nurse practitioner from Naples as the “doctor of the day” on the first day of the session.

However, the adopted bill was amended to exclude physician assistants and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) from practicing independently.

“Although we are disappointed that the legislation did not include Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), we are pleased that some of Florida’s APRNs will be able to practice autonomously,” said Jose Castillo III, president of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists.

“Passage of this bill demonstrates Florida’s commitment to modernizing the way healthcare is being delivered in our state by ensuring that Floridians have full access to healthcare, particularly in rural areas that are often underserved,” Castillo said in a written statement.

The Florida Medical Association, representing doctors, has opposed this legislation and similar proposals for years.

Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.