Advanced practice registered nurses
Expanding access to health care
The Florida House and Senate will be taking up legislation this year that will consider expanding the scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses, or APRNs. This legislation could improve access to primary care and save money. Those opposed to the legislation have presented arguments that have little clinical support and in reality consist of talking points and fear-mongering. These arguments consist of three major themes.
The first is that APRNs are not adequately educated or experienced to practice independently. But multiple independent studies have demonstrated that they are safe and effective health care providers with similar health care outcomes to their physician colleagues.
Secondly, opponents suggest that if APRN's can prescribe controlled substances prescription drug abuse will explode. Forty-nine states allow APRNs to prescribe controlled substances, and there is no evidence to suggest it increases the illicit prescribing of narcotics.
Finally, those who oppose expanded practice argue that the system is currently working and they see no reason to change the "physician-led team" as it currently exists. The simple fact is that for many poor and rural communities the system is not working. They do not have access to physicians and are only cared for by APRNs. As APRNs are not allowed to prescribe many necessary medications and treatments, these communities are denied access to these vital services.
Edward Briggs, St. Petersburg
Proposal for grading: Simplify | Feb. 12
A retreat on excellence
Regarding your article on how AP classes, SAT scores and improving literacy rates above 25 percent will now be taken out of the "complicated" school grading system, I am utterly appalled by Commissioner Pam Stewart's lack of commitment to educational excellence, accountability and national standards.
Stewart has removed even modest benchmarks of performance so that superintendents, and some careerist K-12 educators, will be placated. Meanwhile, highest-achieving students and schools will not be duly rewarded as the grading system, although "simplified," will become less meaningful as a comparative tool.
Unfortunately, the move to change the entire grading system, instead of actually improving school performance, once again represents a step backward, not forward, for Florida's K-12 students, hard-working teachers and committed parents.
In quantitative research, such "dumbing down" is a validity concern known as statistical regression, and is to be minimized at all costs. Instead, in the current K-12 educational bureaucratic revolt against top 100 standards, to include our state flagship universities UF and FSU, only the children of Florida will suffer.
Robert J. King, Largo
A clean vote victory | Feb. 13, editorial
All about the spending
I am encouraged that the Republican leadership showed a level of maturity not recently seen in Washington.
Now if the president would stop threatening with his "pen and phone" and Harry Reid would allow a "clean vote," or any vote, on bills the Democrats don't like, maybe the American people would be the winners.
At some point we must all realize that unabated spending, whether for food stamps or missiles, is not going to allow us to leave a better country for future generations.
Edward Germond, Apollo Beach
Lawmakers cite report to call out red-light cameras | Feb. 12
To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, "There they go again." Two state lawmakers want to eliminate the red-light cameras that reduce accidents at intersections because they say, "We currently have (other) tools in our toolbox to stop the infractions." That sounds like a lot of political baloney to me. If we have those tools, why haven't we used them? Why are deaths, injuries, property damage and near-misses due to red-light running still so prevalent?
They also make the absurd argument that eliminating the cameras is necessary to stop localities from exploiting them improperly for extra revenue. Rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water, these lawmakers should put their focus on ensuring the tools they claim we have are used better in conjunction with red-light cameras and on prohibiting any improper revenue generation. We can't afford to discard the one tool that we know makes our intersections safer.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
'Lobbyist' not dirty word | Feb. 10, commentary
Keep an eye on the money
The Times published a commentary by Darryl Paulson defending the work of lobbyists.
The article was first published Feb. 6 in Context Florida, an online opinion network. Context Florida was started by Peter Schorsch, who is the executive editor of StPetersBlog. On the StPetersBlog website, it was noted that Context Florida had made advertising agreements with "several top lobbying and public affairs firms." So we have an opinion piece defending lobbyists posted in an online publication which receives paid advertisements from lobbying firms. (To be fair, it does appear that Context Florida publishes opinions representing a diversity of political orientations.)
No doubt there are lobbyists who are ethical and pursue honorable goals. However, to deny the importance of their financial "contributions" is disingenuous.
John Dalton, St. Petersburg
His final salute | Feb. 13
Growing up in Brooklyn in the '40s and '50s, I had the opportunity to see the best of the best in baseball. I saw the Yankee Clipper, Mickey, the Duke, Willie, Henry, Feller, Koufax, Ted Williams and many more.
Some of these were great players and some had not only the admiration of the fans but their respect.
At the end of this season, baseball will lose a personality and a talent that it can ill afford at this time of performance enhancing drugs and scandals. Look in the dictionary under "class act" and you will see a photo of Derek Jeter.
Michael P. Catalano, Palm Harbor