The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would fast track military medics into the civilian health care profession in Florida.
The bill (SB 466) would require the Board of Governors and the State Board of Education to award college credits to military medics based on their military training and clinical hours.
It would also establish a Military Corpsmen and Medics Program of Florida (MCMF) within the Department of Health.
The program is designed to help veterans with the health care licensure process and application, plus link them with resume and interview assistance.
The Senate passed the measure unanimously. Orlando Democratic Rep. Victor Torres, a military veteran and retired police officer, is the bill sponsor.
He shared the story of a transitioning military medic within his district who once sought a career in health care. The plan, however, fell apart after the veteran realized much of his training and experience is not considered in the training and licensure. The veteran instead pursued a different career field.
That story, Torres suggested, is the story of many military medics.
Hollywood Democratic Rep. Marie Woodson in the company bill sponsor (HB 131). She believes the proposal may help address staffing shortages in the health care profession.
Florida may be short nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035, the Tampa Bay Times detailed in a report. While staffing shortages are not a new phenomenon in health care, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted mass resignations among nurses in particular.
In order to qualify for the program, a veteran must have served within the preceding consecutive 12 months as an Army Combat Medic Specialist, Air Force or Space Force Aerospace Medical Service Technician, Navy or Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman, or Coast Guard Health Services Technician.
They must have also earned an honorable discharge. Discharged members of the Florida National Guard may also qualify.
The bill now awaits House consideration. If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.