The Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery, created within the state Department of Health, hosted a public meeting Tuesday to discuss legislative updates and licensing rules — including one change that could standardize the midwife certification process and bring more practitioners to the state.
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Executive director Kama Monroe updated the council on a couple legislative bills they had been following. The first was SB 716, which would require practitioners to obtain written consent from patients before performing a pelvic examination, if the patient were unconscious. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill on June 21.
However, SB 1568, which contained extensive language to standardize the approval of midwifery training programs and licensure requirements, died in the Senate during the last legislative session. Monroe said of the bill:
“[The council is] hoping to see remarkably similar language in 2021.”
Gerry Nielsen, the council’s program operations administrator, then updated members on the department’s midwifery statutes. The department reviewed the midwifery application as part of a larger review of all practitioners applications over the past year.
Previously, the department had one licensure application, but the council found that it needed two separate applications — one by attending a certified Florida midwifery program and taking an exam, and one by endorsement, where a practitioner would need a different set of education requirements if they did not attend a certified program.
“We were getting applications by examination that really needed the endorsement applications under our current statute rule. Because both things were trying to be done at once, that kind of created confusion on both sides of the fence …
[Separating the applications] hopefully will decrease the number of days to license, specifically for midwives by examination, but also will give a clear path forward for midwives for license by endorsement.”
Jennie Joseph, a former chair of the council who was in attendance at the meeting, commended the application standardization:
“I think we are going to see many more applicants, particularly out of state providers that are going to want to go through licensure this way. I really appreciate that we have got forms that are going to make it a whole lot easier, not only on the council but the schools and the students as well.”
Nielsen added this rule change has been filed for development within the department, to be followed by a notice of proposed rule, and subsequently filing for rule adoption. Rules usually take 60-90 days to move through this process, although the council clarified the process is slower this year due to the pandemic.
Other issues the council discussed included standardizing the use of an electronic health records form, updating the midwifery initial and ongoing risk assessment form, and preparing to release the 2021 Annual Report of Midwifery Practice.
The council is accepting public comments on reforming their statues via [email protected] and will reconvene on November 17.