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Florida’s “Live Healthy” Initiative Provides Foreign Trained Physicians a Path to Licensure

Florida Senate Bill 7016

In early 2024, the Florida Senate passed Senate Bill 7016 in an effort to expand the residents’ access to healthcare as the state’s population continues to grow. The law attempts to increase the number of doctors in the state through ways such as expanding medical residency programs in Florida and establishing ways to retain Florida medical students leading into their years of practicing.

According to the bill, part of the solution to retaining Florida medical students is removing certain barriers for foreign-trained physicians to practice in Florida. The Association of American Medical Colleges notes that one of the difficulties Florida medical students face when attempting to secure a residency in Florida is competition from overseas medical schools that pay to place their students in Florida clinicals.

Additionally, foreign-trained physicians must bear the burden of completing another residency in Florida before they are qualified to practice, despite already having a license elsewhere. With the bill, removing the barriers is meant to benefit Florida medical students and foreign-trained physicians alike.

Changes Under the New Law

Under the previous law, foreign-trained physicians were subjected to a residency requirement which was typically set for a minimum of one year. Under the new law, foreign-trained physicians are exempt from the previous residency requirement, barring that they qualify for the new criteria set forth under the law.

Section 458.311(8)(e) of the bill is amended to state that graduates of a foreign medical school who have not completed residency may bypass the requirement by meeting the following criteria:

  1. Has an active, unencumbered license to practice medicine in a foreign country; 2.
  2. Has actively practiced medicine during the entire 4-year period preceding the date of the submission of a licensure application;
  3.  Has completed a residency or substantially similar postgraduate medical training in a country recognized by his or her licensing jurisdiction which is substantially similar to a residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, as determined by the board;
  4. Has had his or her medical credentials evaluated by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, holds an active, valid certificate issued by that commission, and has passed the examination used by that commission; and
  5. Has an offer for full-time employment as a physician from a health care provider that operates in this state. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “health care provider” means a health care professional, health care facility, or entity licensed or certified to provide health services in this state as recognized by the board.

In addition to the barriers removed for foreign-trained physicians during the residency process, the bill has also removed some challenges that foreign-trained physicians may face in the hiring process of Florida medical schools. The bill removes statutory limits that were placed on hiring experienced foreign-trained physicians for the medical school’s faculty.

Further, the Board of Medicine may certify the licensure of a foreign-trained physician who has held an active medical faculty certificate and has taught at a Florida medical school full-time for at least three consecutive years.

Future Impacts

With the residency requirement removed for qualified foreign-trained physicians and the ability to receive licensure through teaching, there may be quite a few individuals who want to use the opportunity to become a licensed physician in Florida. As of May, of this year, the law is expected to benefit over 30,000 Cuban physicians and other foreign-trained healthcare professionals who can qualify under the new requirements. Although the law was only passed early this year, it is possible that it may have a significant impact on the status of our healthcare system for years to come.

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It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.

All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.

Jamaal Jones

jrj@joneshealthlaw.com

This post was authored by Jamaal R. Jones, Esquire (Partner) of Jones Health Law, P.A. where we provide "On-Call Legal Services to Healthcare Professionals". For more information contact us at (305) 877-5054; email us at JRJ@JonesHealthLaw.com, or visit our website at www.JonesHealthLaw.com

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