by Matt Caulder, Capitol Connection, March 18, 2016.
A state legislative subcommittee approved draft legislation Thursday that would dissolve 15 occupational licensing boards in the state.
Included for dissolution are the boards currently licensing electrologists and laser hair practitioners, fee-based practicing pastoral counselors, interpreters and transliterators, irrigation contractors, recreational therapists and recreational therapy assistants, acupuncturists, athletic trainers, foresters, locksmiths, podiatrists, alarm systems businesses, continuing education for fire and casualty insurance licensees and life and health insurance licensees, employee assistance professionals, perfusionists and also public librarians.
Along with the dissolution of the boards would be the current licensing requirements the independent boards have laid on those wishing to join the field.
The legislation would be set to go into effect May 1, 2017, giving the boards a year if the legislation is passed early on in the session, set to begin next month.
The move by the Occupational Licensing Board Oversight subcommittee of the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee is being floated with the intention of de-regulating the state to remove barriers to entry for newcomers to the affected occupations.
The measure will go to the full Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee.
Tougher to become a trainer?
Dan Duffy, a representative of the North Carolina Board of Athletic Trainer Examiners, spoke at the meeting about the importance of his organization, said athletic training is in the process of becoming even harder to enter as a profession.
Duffy is an athletic trainer in Wilmington who has been established in the area for more than 25 years. He said that nationally athletic training is becoming a field in which newcomers must obtain a master’s degree before being able to get an entry-level job in the field, seemingly going in the opposite direction of what the Legislature is seeking to accomplish.
Duffy said that athletic trainers are treated as licensed health care providers in 49 of the 50 states, except California, and that athletic trainers saved nine lives from July of last year until now in the state.
The proposed legislation would repeal the law that originally created the North Carolina Board of Athletic Trainer Examiners, removing the licensing requirements existing in the state.
Over the last two decades, “States that were not regulating athletic trainers have begun regulating athletic trainers,” Duffy said. “We feel like the legalities of it being licensed and having a licensing board is of greater benefit to public safety.”
“Our profession now is in the process of moving to entry-level master’s degree, so soon you will not be able to practice with a bachelor’s degree, you will need a master’s degree, similar to what other allied health professionals have done recently,” he said.
Academic programs for trainers have until 2018, (which) will be the last year for accredited programs to exist as undergraduate, and then they move to master levels.
After that time there will not be accredited bachelor’s programs for athletic training that will make a graduate “career ready.”
“My concern initially is that’s going to raise the cost on those initially that are trying to get into the business of being an athletic trainer,” Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) said. “Is it absolutely necessary for someone to obtain a master’s degree?”
Duffy said that it is in line with the national certification board and that other allied health professions are doing the same.
“That’s a national movement, so that’s a national certification,” he said.
Consolidation planned for five boards
The draft bill also calls for the consolidation of five different boards into the purview of existing boards.
Under the legislation, the committee charged with licensing midwives would come under the state board over nursing, the Respiratory Care Board would fall under the state medical board, the marriage and family therapy as well as substance abuse boards would go under the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, and the pilotage commissions over the Cape Fear River and Morehead City areas..
The full committee will hear from representatives of those boards affected at its April meeting, which is expected to see pushback from the licensing boards looking at dissolution or consolidation in 2017.