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Opinion

Nursing Proposal and Access to Care

To the Editor:

Re: Nurse Bill Goes Too Far, Critics Say

This morning, I read “Nurse Bill Goes Too Far, Critics Say.” It is a very interesting piece. I must admit that you attempted to address both sides of the issue.

I think that state Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, is a little off base in her statement: “The plan – which allows qualified nurse practitioners the ability to operate independently, without a physician supervision – could be seen as short-cut to those who want to treat patients but don’t want to go to medical school.” I have been a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) for almost 20 years. I have several years of education and plenty of clinical experience. I also have a doctorate in nursing and have obtained post-doctoral certificates in other disciplines. Personally, if I would have liked to attend medical school, I could easily have done so. I had the grades and the motivation.

I know many nurse practitioners that have obtained several Master’s degrees and certifications in different fields. They also could have attended medical school and succeed if that would have been their choice. Instead, we chose the field of nursing and we are very proud of our profession and what we do for the citizens of Florida and the U.S.

Another point I will like to address is the statewide “pill-mill crisis.” Isn’t it interesting that we have such problem here is Florida, but we were never the ones prescribing these “highly addicting narcotics” the Florida Medical Association (FMA) is now fiercely opposing? I personally don’t need prescriptive authority to perform my clinical duties, however the citizens of Florida would tremendously benefit from this when such opportunity would be granted to nurse practitioners. There are other medications the citizens of Florida need such as antibiotics, antidepressants and anti-inflammatory drugs just to name a few. Of course, the FMA conveniently forgot to mention those medications and many others. Narcotics sensationalize the issue. The real problem is access to affordable and optimal healthcare to the citizens of Florida, not over-prescribing narcotics.

The U.S. health care is in crisis and we must find innovative ways of caring for our citizens. Nurse practitioners have been providing care to Americas for many years with excellent outcomes. This fact has been proven by reputable research. Sometimes our physician colleagues turn a cheek and choose to ignore that reality. As Americans, we have been trained to do so in many aspects of our daily lives and we have gotten quite good at it.  We must stop arguing and trying to control one another. It is time to unite and work together to provide excellent and affordable healthcare to all citizens in the U.S.

I praise state Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park for his efforts to be a pioneer in Florida and for his support of advance practice nurses. We need to provide access to care at all levels and in every area of Florida. Times are changing. Each healthcare practitioner must embrace these changes. It is not about us (doctors, nurse practitioners or nurses), it is about the future of healthcare in the United States of America.

Respectfully,

Dr. Ernesto C. Perez, DNP, CRNA, ARNP, PMC-INFORMATICS, FNAP

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