Are Florida veterinarians really exempt from CE?

New law mistakenly says 'yes,' but a fix is planned, FVMA says

Published: June 04, 2024

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Screenshot by Dr. Amber Parker
The state of Florida notified veterinarians by email yesterday that they may be exempt from continuing education requirements under a new law, prompting widespread surprise. The inclusion of veterinarians in the provision is said to be an oversight.

Email sent yesterday to veterinarians licensed in the state of Florida bore a startling message:

As of July 1, they no longer need to complete continuing education if they've been licensed continuously for at least 10 years and have no disciplinary action against their license.

"What madness is this?" wondered Dr. Amber Parker, who posted a copy of the email to a message board of the Veterinary Information Network, an online community for the profession. Many of Parker's colleagues echoed her astonishment and dismay.

According to the Florida Veterinary Medical Association, which monitors legislation in the state, veterinarians were included by mistake in SB 382, a bill — now law — that excuses experienced licensees in a number of occupations from continuing education requirements.

Dr. Rick Sutliff, co-chair of the FVMA's legislative committee, explained to the VIN News Service by email: "The truth is that the bill sponsor's intent was to exclude health care workers .... Unfortunately, the senator, who we have had discussions with since the bill passed, forgot that in Florida, veterinarians are regulated under our Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR)." Other medical professionals in the state are regulated by the Florida Department of Health.

The DBPR oversees an array of occupations that includes athlete agents, barbers, geologists and harbor pilots, among others.

The law, which was signed by the governor on May 16, does exclude some groups regulated by DBPR, including architects, certified public accountants and engineers — but not veterinarians.

Sutliff said the FVMA didn't realize veterinarians were swept up in the law until after it passed.

He said the association has since been in contact with the bill sponsor, Sen. Ed Hooper, "and there is active work being done to present a simple legislative amendment for the next legislative session" so that veterinarians will not be exempted from continuing education requirements after all.

The next legislative session begins in March 2025.

VIN News emailed Hooper and left a voice message at his office in Tallahassee today but did not receive an immediate reply.

Continuing education, or CE, is standard in many professions, not the least in medicine. Until now, Florida has required all veterinarians to complete 30 hours of CE every two years to maintain their state license. The requirement still applies to veterinarians who have practiced in the state for fewer than 10 years or who have disciplinary action against their license.

Sutliff noted that Florida veterinarians have just completed a two-year CE cycle (which ends on May 31 every even year), and he believes that the education requirement will be back in place before the end of the next cycle in 2026. So, his advice to fellow veterinarians is to keep taking courses.

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