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Lawmakers say CNA medication training is one way to address nursing home shortage

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Under a bill moving through the Florida legislature CNAs could get training as medication aides in nursing homes. Sponsor Sen. Colleen Burton said the measure would help free up nurses to provide higher-level care to residents.

A state Senate panel has approved a proposal that would allow trained certified nursing assistants to give medications to nursing home residents.

In an effort to address the ongoing worker shortage at Florida’s nursing homes, lawmakers are considering a measure that would let certified nursing assistants get trained as "qualified medication aides."

Supporters say the plan would free up nurses and create a glide path for CNAs to get more training.

 “This bill would allow licensed nurses to concentrate on higher level care by delegating routine non-narcotic medication administration under their supervision," said bill sponsor Sen. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland)

Burton said to earn the designation, CNAs would need to get specified training and must have worked as a CNA for at least a year.

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee unanimously approved its version of the bill (SB 558) on Tuesday.

During the panel's hearing on the measure, several groups including Leading Age Florida and the AARP signaled their support. Nobody spoke against the plan.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood (D-Tamarac) says she saw firsthand when her grandfather was in a nursing home how over-taxed many nurses are. She thinks the proposed change makes sense for patients and nursing home workers.

“So this opportunity will allow our CNAs to level up. They’re already there. A lot of times they have the best relationship with the patient because they’re already doing the caregiving," Osgood said.

Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) sees the move as a chance for CNAs to advance their careers.

“I think this really gives our CNAs a glide path to become an LPN and then an RN. This is exactly what we want to do to build our workforce," Harrell said.

The House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee last week approved a House version of the bill (HB 351).

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