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Letter to the Editor

Florida needs to do more to attract doctors

An area doctor writes that Florida has several hurdles to clear in order to draw more medical professionals.

  • By
  • | 8:00 a.m. February 14, 2024
  • Longboat Key
  • Opinion
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I want to reflect on issues that struck a chord about recruiting health caregivers to Florida ("How to attract more M.D.s," the Longboat Observer, Feb. 1). Let me start by saying that Ms. Passidomo should be lauded for taking an organized approach to the problem. My view is that it will take more than money to attract more physicians to Florida, based on my personal experience with getting a Florida medical license to volunteer in clinics for the underserved, my wife's experience as a licensed nurse practitioner in Florida looking for part-time work, my perception of the attitudes toward health care in Florida.

Difficulty getting a senior physician’s license

Since moving to Florida, I have worked with some excellent retired clinicians in volunteer clinics. My personal experience with getting a license was somewhat difficult. I have been continuously licensed since 1972. 

My experience includes 14 years at the University of Minnesota, four years in the USAF, 23 years at the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio) and eight years at Eli Lilly. During that time I trained many physicians, including several who now practice in Florida. 

When I applied for my Florida medical license in 2017, I made several phone calls to the licensing board about my application and finally was told I needed to meet with the Medical Licensing Board. After a live meeting with the board in Fort Lauderdale, the board required that I be supervised by another physician, a general internist (a person with less formal training than I had) for six months before a full license would be granted. A colleague agreed and I now have a license. 

My experience with the Florida licensing board is not isolated and may give pause to other experienced clinicians who may consider getting a license to practice here. 

Limited or no part-time work for NPs

My wife has looked for part-time (or shared positions) in several practices in Sarasota. She is a graduate of Indiana University and the Francis Payne Bolton program at Case Western University in Cleveland. She has outstanding clinical skills and is licensed in Florida. She has been unsuccessful in finding part-time outpatient work in Sarasota. Instead, she now works for a large pharmaceutical company who recognize her skills. 

Florida’s less than welcoming health care environment 

Physicians who are looking for jobs look at the general medical environment before making decisions. For well-trained physician-scientists who are looking for places to practice, Florida is not especially attractive in this regard. 

Two examples will suffice: 

  1. A public that, during COVID, demanded that physicians give unproven therapies and expressed vocal criticism of a good health care organization in Sarasota (Sarasota Memorial Hospital). Very few health care professionals want to start work in a non-collaborative environment. 
  2. A Florida surgeon general who promotes views of interventions not supported by any scientific evidence. Physicians, nurses and other health care givers are trained based on the best scientific evidence available at the time. A government official who breaches that trust creates a negative view of health care in Florida and is a potential barrier to health care professionals considering Florida for practice who see the views expressed by the Surgeon General of Florida as representing health care in Florida more generally. 

Solutions to the issues raised above will not require significant financial support from Florida taxpayers.

— Byron J. Hoogwerf, M.D.


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