Florida bill scraps reciprocity requirement for licensure by endorsement
For many years, California and Florida have been the only two states that have refused pharmacists reciprocity of their licenses. While there's talk of change in California (Drug Topics, April 16), Florida now appears to be swinging the door open. Officials are quick to say, however, that the proposed change in Florida is not reciprocity, but licensure by endorsement. There are subtle differences between the two. The statute provides only for licensure by endorsement, which means that there are conditions on the transfer of license. And it is not official yet.
On May 3, 2001, a bill to permit licensure by endorsement cleared its final hurdle, passing in the Florida state senate by 38 to 1 and in the house by 118 to 0. It is now on the desk of Gov. Jeb Bush, and he is expected to sign it.
"It is not a true transfer of license, but it allows you to become licensed without taking the NAPLEX [North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination] again under certain circumstances," said John Taylor, executive director of the Florida Board of Pharmacy. The basic provisions of the bill require that pharmacists applying for licensure by endorsement in Florida have:
The bill will go into effect immediately upon the signature of the governor. However, the board of pharmacy will not be ready to accept applications for several months.
"The board will begin the process of implementing it by rule," said Taylor. It probably will be on the board meeting agenda for June or August. Then time will be allotted for challenges to the rules. "Realistically, I would expect it to be fall before we will be in a position to accept applications for licensure," he said, adding that it is a matter of fairness. "Qualified people should be able to come to Florida and practice pharmacy. Several employers are having difficulty filling positions. This should help them find more qualified pharmacists."
In the past, pharmacists transferring to the state of Florida had to retake the NAPLEX. It presented a barrier to being able to move manpower into Florida from other states.
"We are told that there are pockets around the state where there is a shortage of pharmacists. That is probably one reason advocates of this provision would like to allow this to occur," said Michael Jackson, executive v.p., Florida Pharmacy Association. "My question is, Will this initiative solve that problem? Only time and history will tell." He noted that this provision also will allow pharmacists holding only a Florida license to transfer to other states, and some pharmacists may leave the state.
Jackson expects reaction to the change to be mixed. "There are some pharmacists who think there is a sincere need for this provision to be passed," he said. "There are some pharmacists who are very emotional about it and prefer the status of pharmacist licensure in Florida to remain the same. There's a lot of apprehension about what this initiative will do and what its whole purpose will be."
Pharmacy students at two of the three colleges of pharmacy in the state have also expressed concern as to how this will affect their ability to obtain jobs in the future.
"We have to evaluate the number of applications that go into the board of pharmacy to see what kind of impact this change will have. There's no way of knowing that right now," said Jackson.
Florida has between 19,000 and 20,000 licensed pharmacists, a little more than two pharmacists for every pharmacy in Florida. Jackson noted that there may be an issue with manpower because some pharmacists are choosing not to go into specific practice site environments.
"The word is spreading fast about what Florida has done, and we will have to see if this fixes the manpower issues here in Florida," said Jackson. "If it doesn't, we have to start looking at something else other than the available pool of pharmacists out there."
Ann Saul. Florida may be opening doors to pharmacists from other states. Drug Topics 2001;10:10.