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Rep. Bob Cortes Seeks to Expedite Process for Puerto Rican & Virgin Island Nurse Evacuees to Practice in Florida

Oct262017

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With over 60,000 Puerto Rican evacuees making their way to Florida alone and over 100,000 in total to the United States, Florida has stepped up to provide education and jobs for the evacuees who have chosen to remain in Florida either temporarily or permanently after Hurricanes Irma and Maria plowed through the Caribbean and decimated the islands.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Rep. Bob Cortes announced that the Florida Board of Nursing would be expediting its procedures for registered and licensed nurses from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to practice in Florida. Many nurses from both islands have been seeking jobs in central Florida and throughout the State of Florida since the hurricanes took their toll less than two months ago.

View the Rep. Cortes’ along with several others’ press conference here.

“Many evacuees are seeking to relocate to Florida, and there are things that we can do to immediately take advantage of skill sets desperately needed by our healthcare community and our economy as a whole,” stated State Representative Bob Cortes. “Florida has been suffering a shortage of nurses and doctors, and many evacuees have the experience and credentials necessary to go to work immediately.”

Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, still suffering the aftermath of unprecedented hurricanes this season, are still months away from a return to normalcy. Evacuees from both locations have been disproportionately seeking to relocate either temporarily or permanently to Florida. At the same time, Florida’s economy has been on a steady pace of expansion over the past two years and workforce needs are becoming a priority. The influx of new labor could be a huge benefit for the state.

Cortes continued, “Florida is the leader of the Caribbean, and our economies and our communities are closely linked. Florida has extended a strong helping hand to our neighbors in distress, and because of that, Florida is the second home to many evacuees already. We need to make sure that anyone coming to Florida is in the best position to get a job and begin contributing to our economy as quickly as possible. Today’s step is one in the right direction.”

The Board of Nursing provides the following information to assist individuals from Puerto Rico who are seeking to work in Florida:

Florida law allows the following steps toward expediting the licensure process:

  • $110 fee
  • LiveScan for criminal background results http://www.flhealthsource.gov/background-screening – (licensure by this expedited method is not allowed if there is a criminal history.)
  • Demonstrate he/she has actively practiced for 2 of the 3 preceding years with no discipline
  • Request the Puerto Rico Board of Nursing send Florida Board of Nursing verification of their licensure status; Board staff will also attempt to verify directly with Puerto Rican regulatory officials
  • Written verification of current employment on official agency letterhead. If unable to obtain verification due to the circumstances in Puerto Rico, the applicant may submit documentation to demonstrate work for 2 of the past 3 years by alternative means. Board staff will review that information as part of the applicant’s file.
  • If licensed via this expedited route, applicant must complete a Florida laws and rules course approved by the Board within 6 months
  • Apply via http://floridasnursing.gov/licensing/
  • If the applicant doesn’t have the work experience for endorsement, they would apply via examination to take the NCLEX (national licensure examination)

(RN and LPN Licensure by Endorsement – expedited route in Nurse Practice Act; Section 464.009(1)(c), FS)

Additional information from Section 464.022, FS:

Any nurse currently licensed in another state or territory of the United States is authorized to perform nursing services in Florida for a period of 60 days after furnishing to an employer satisfactory evidence of current licensure in another state or territory and having submitted proper application and fees to the Board of Nursing for licensure prior to employment. If the nurse licensed in another state or territory is relocating to this state pursuant to his or her military-connected spouse’s official military orders, this period shall be 120 days after furnishing to the employer satisfactory evidence of current licensure in another state or territory and having submitted proper application and fees to the board for licensure prior to employment. The board may extend this time for administrative purposes when necessary.

The Boards of Medicine and Osteopathic Medicine provide the following information to assist individuals from Puerto Rico who are seeking to work in Florida:

The following steps have been taken to facilitate the verification of licens

  • Licenses are verified by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) for Puerto Rico physicians who have tested through that entity to satisfy the current Florida requirements.
  • FSMB has reached out to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to assist in verifying postgraduate training and medical education.
  • Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS) continues to verify the medical credentials for physicians who choose to use FCVS services.
  • National Practitioner Data Bank was contacted. Medical license information for Puerto Rican licensed physicians is retained.
  • The American Medical Association (AMA) profile has been used as a resource to assist in verifying the postgraduate training for physicians.

Click on the links to find information regarding opportunities to be designated as an Area of Critical Need Medical Doctor or Limited License Medical Doctor.

Additional information regarding Background Screening:

Applicants for initial licensure must use a LiveScan service provider to submit a set of fingerprints to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for the purpose of conducting a search for any Florida and national criminal history records that may pertain to the applicant. The results of the search will be returned to the Care Provider Background Screening Clearinghouse and made available to the Department for consideration during the licensure process. The fingerprints submitted by the applicant will be retained by FDLE and the Clearinghouse. All costs for conducting a criminal history background screening are borne by the applicant. It is important to use the correct Originating Agency Identification (ORI) when submitting fingerprints. If you do not provide an ORI number or if you provide an incorrect ORI number to the service provider, the board office will not receive your fingerprint results, so it is extremely important to use the correct ORI when having your fingerprints scanned.

Applicants can use any FDLE approved LiveScan service provider to submit their fingerprints. The applicant is fully responsible for selecting the service provider and ensuring the results are reported to the Department. You must print this form and take it with you to a Livescan service provider. For more information, FAQs, and a list of all approved Livescan service providers please visit the Department’s website at: http://www.flhealthsource.gov/background-screening and click on the Livescan Service Providers tab.

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