Scope of Practice. We use the phrase often. However, the term does not, as Inigo Montoyo would say, mean what you think it means.
When a jurisdiction determines that a particular profession should be licensed, it defines a range of activities that it considers to be a part of that profession.That is what we think of as the scope of practice.
For a super-great exploration of scope of practice I strongly, strongly, urge you to read this and this. Based on these sources, my own experience on a regulatory board, and additional reading and experience —
- Scope does not give a profession a monopoly or a copyright. Scopes overlap. Convincing the public that TPDN is acupuncture will not prevent PT’s and other professionals from adding the technique to their scope.
- Something does not have to be formally listed within a profession’s scope to be legally used by licensees. It is not necessary to legislatively add Tui Na or herbs to a scope for it to be permissible for qualified practitioners to use those modalities, as long as their scope does not expressly forbid it.
- Adding a technique to a formal scope can increase the educational and testing burden on all licensees, not just those who intend to use the technique. The acupuncturist who has no intention of incorporating herbs into his or her practice, but who can’t obtain a license without also spending years and tens of thousands of dollars studying and obtaining herbal certification is an acupuncturist whose livelihood is unnecessarily threatened with no benefit to the public.
Our superficial understanding of scope of practice leads us into battles that we will ultimately lose, limits our opportunities, and distracts us from efforts that could better serve the profession and the public. What a shame.
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