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Florida passes law to make it easier for foreign doctors to practice

Due to the lack of registered health specialists since the pandemic, the state of Florida approved a law that allows foreign doctors to facilitate the practice of the profession within the United States, without having to comply with the 3-year residency requirement or carry out his studies back in the country to be able to practice.

The recent passage of SB 7016 in the state of Florida marked a significant milestone for foreign-trained physicians and healthcare professionals. This new legal framework, known as the “Live Healthy” law, seeks to facilitate the professional practice of these health workers by eliminating certain previously essential requirements.

One of the most significant changes introduced by SB 7016 is the elimination of the 3-year medical residency requirement, which until now was a considerable obstacle for foreign doctors wishing to practice in Florida.

Under the previous regulations, many of these professionals were forced to carry out extensive processes to revalidate their degrees, including repeating studies and completing medical residencies in the United States.

Colombian neurologist Laureano Chileuitta highlighted the importance of this reform, pointing out that before doctors had to resort to strategies such as doing an internship in Puerto Rico to meet the necessary requirements.

In the words of the doctors themselves, this law, signed in March by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, represents significant relief for many immigrant doctors who have encountered barriers to practicing their profession in the state.

Impact on the healthcare workforce in Florida

Governor DeSantis emphasized that this new law is crucial to the growth of the workforce in Florida, especially in a state that has experienced rapid expansion and has underserved areas in terms of health care.

“It will help us expand and do what we need to have a great health care workforce, which is an important thing and a growing state is going to need that,” DeSantis stated.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the critical need for more healthcare professionals, strengthening the argument for passing this law. In that sense, it was the lack of health specialists during the pandemic that highlighted the urgency of legislation that would allow qualified doctors, although trained abroad, to practice in Florida without excessive obstacles.

Additional process and requirements for doctors

Despite the facilities that SB 7016 brings, not everything will be automatic for foreign doctors. Laureano Chileuitta clarified that, although the law eliminates certain requirements, professionals will still have to complete an education plan and pass the necessary exams to obtain their license in Florida.

“It’s not that they believe that the law was passed, where do I sign it and give me my diploma… no, you have to make an education plan, you have to complete the exams,” Chileuitta explained.

Additionally, the rule states that physicians must have practiced medicine in the four years prior to applying for a license in Florida, thus ensuring that professionals maintain an adequate level of competency and up-to-date experience.

Expected benefits and international context

Florida State Senate President Kathleen Passidomo praised the law, noting that it will increase workforce mobility and incentivize trained health care workers to provide services in high-demand areas such as mental health and childbirth, as well as to help Floridians with disabilities.

According to official figures, almost 34% of health specialists in Florida are over 60 years old, which implies a next wave of retirements that could worsen the personnel shortage in the sector.

Internationally, the change in Florida legislation reflects a broader trend in the United States and other developed countries, where ways are being sought to integrate foreign health professionals into local systems to fill gaps in the sector.

Countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have implemented similar programs to recognize foreign credentials and allow foreign-trained healthcare professionals to contribute more easily.

Data and Statistics of the medical sector in FL

Statistics show that Florida has one of the most diverse and fastest-growing populations in the United States, with a high demand for health services.

According to a report from the Florida Department of Health, the state will need approximately 5,000 new doctors in the next decade to maintain quality of care. With SB 7016, it is expected that a significant part of this demand can be covered by doctors trained abroad.

In that sense, the law represents a significant advance for the health sector in Florida, providing a practical solution to the lack of medical specialists and facilitating the way for foreign professionals to contribute to the state’s health system.

This legislation not only benefits immigrant doctors, but also strengthens Florida’s healthcare system, ensuring it remains robust and able to serve the needs of its growing population.

With this new law, Florida not only responds to an immediate need, but also positions itself as a state that values ​​and leverages global talent to improve its healthcare infrastructure and ensure a healthier future for all its residents.

The successful implementation of this law could serve as a model for other states and countries, underscoring the importance of inclusive and progressive policies in the field of public health.

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