Combat medics will soon have easier path to becoming a civilian nurse
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It was priority legislation for Miami Springs Sen. Bryan Ávila.

Current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces with in-the-field medical experience will soon have an easier time transitioning to a related career in Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (SB 274) requiring Florida state universities, college and career schools to award nursing credits to American combat medics commensurate with their practical knowledge.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Bryan Ávila, a lieutenant in the Florida Army National Guard, is appropriately titled the “Pathway for Combat Medics Act.”

Navarre Republican Rep. Joel Rudman carried a House companion of the bill, which received unanimous support in both chambers of the Legislature.

The Governor approved it Friday afternoon along with nine other bills, several of which concerning military personnel, ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

“This legislation will ensure we continue to take care of our servicemembers while simultaneously addressing the critical shortage of nurses in our state,” Ávila told Florida Politics by text. “Creative initiatives, such as SB 274, will significantly help us tackle one of the biggest issues currently facing the health care industry.”

SB 274 was a priority bill of the first-term Senator this Session. He pitched it as addressing two key needs here: easing the reentry of some military members into civilian life and addressing the Sunshine State’s growing nursing shortage.

Florida is projected by 2035 to have nearly 60,000 fewer nurses than are needed to support health care demands across the state. According to the Florida Hospital Association, 70% of hospitals statewide reported critical staffing shortages.

Ávila’s office met more than 30 times with lobbyists representing groups and companies — including the Florida Health Care Association, Southern Healthcare Management LLC and the Florida branch of Veterans of Foreign Wars — while developing the bill.

Effective upon receiving DeSantis’ signature, SB 274 tasks the Articulating and Coordinating Committee (ACC) with establishing criteria for combat medics to earn higher ed credits. Recommendations to the Board of Governors and State Board of Education are due Dec. 1.

Rudman, a doctor in private life, said the state’s offerings will likely resemble a pilot program underway at the University of South Florida.

Upon receiving an OK from the state education boards, the ACC will have a year to compile a list of course equivalencies and the minimum credits or career education clock hours those courses must award.

The list will be updated annually.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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