National Licensure???

May 3, 2009

     One of the on-line newsletters today brought up the topic of National Licensure and while he made reference to the Joint Board Certification Project Teams model for maintenance of certification, I wanted to take a crack at explaining why true national licensure is unrealistic.
     I can only think of two national (issued by the federal government) licenses. A pilot’s license and a broadcasters license. I’m sure ther are more, but these two come to mind.
     There are NO national licenses for any healthcare profession. There are very similar scopes of practice for medicine and denstistry in most states, but not a national license.
     We have 50 different optometric practice acts and that is because our country operates on a states rights concept. Regulation occurs at the state level.
Scope of practice for optometry is a state issue that must be addressed by the state optometric associations, the state optometric boards and state legislatures – not a federal agency or even a national optometric organization. That said, the AOA continues to work with any state in their efforts to expand the scope of our profession to better serve the patients in their state.
     I am in St. Louis this weekend for the North Central States Optometric Council and had a member suggest that the current optometric board certification program and maintenance of certification proposal could help level the scope of practice across the country. His theory was that when the majority of doctors in a state had passed a board certification exam that included content beyond their scope, it would inspire them to encourage their state association to more aggressively pursue advanced scope of practice laws.
     Since this doctor had been through legislative batteles in his state and understands states right issues, I thought his was an intersting – and certainly more plausible concept than national licensure – way to go North Central optometry!
Until next time… Pete

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