I am an Occupational Therapist here at Foundry Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and I have been actively practicing since 1997. In order for me to actively practice, I hold a national licensure as well as a license in the state of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Throughout my career as a therapist, I have always practiced in the state of Rhode Island. I was recently shocked to read that newly elected Governor Raimondo proposed in her budget released last week that she wants to eliminate almost 30 occupational licenses (27 to be exact) that are currently in place in the state of Rhode Island.
These are the professionals that currently hold licensing that Governor Raimondo’s budget is proposing to eliminate:
Auctioneer, Line Cleaner, Athletic Coach, general Subject Matter Substitute, Nurse Teacher Substitute, Fur buyer, Life Guard, Athletic Trainer, Audiologist Support Person, Barber Apprentice, Barber Instructor, Electrologist Apprentice, Electrologist Instructor, Esthetician Instructor, Hairdresser/ Cosmetologist Instructor, Manicurist Instructor, Clinical Histologic Technician, Clinical Laboratory Scientist, Clinical Lab Tech, Cylotech, Music Therapist, Occupational Therapy Asssistants, Orthotics, Physical Therapy Assistants, Prosthetics, Radiologist Assistant and Sanitarian.
Now I certainly cannot speak for other professions that are listed, but I can acknowledge as a health care provider that I find this extremely concerning. The sole purpose of eliminating these licensing requirements are to simply make it easier for residents of the state to enter these occupations. Make it easier? Really? Physical Therapists, Physical Therapy Assistants, Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants currently require liscensing in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. In Rhode Island, an Occupational Therapist and an Occupational Therapy Assistant are currently required to be licensed, and currently to be renewed every 2 years. These liscensing laws require OT’s and OTA’s to not only earn their Accredited school degrees, but they are required to pass a National Board Examination, perform appropriate work experience / internships, pass a criminal background check, complete an application as well as complete 20 hours of continuing education hours during the licensing period time.
As a practicing Occupational Therapist in Rhode Island , we have rules and regulations for OT’s and OTA’s that govern our practice. These rules and regulations are here to not only protect therapists but to protect the well being and safety of those being treated by therapists. By not allowing such therapist to be licensed, we are putting the public's health, well being and safety at significant risk. There would be no disciplinary actions to those that don’t adhere to the laws of practice which currently can be a license suspension or revocation. We are direct care providers to all individuals including infants, children, elderly and all those in between. What about these therapists that are working in all our school systems? Hospitals and rehab centers?? Working with your children? You and your family members?
I strongly urge you all to look closely at this. If you feel as strongly as I do, I urge you to contact your local state Representatives and Senators. We are not going to attract more professionals if this goes into to affect. We are going to be a magnet for individuals that may have had their licensing revoked, haven’t worked in years or haven’t taken much needed continuing education to keep them up to date and current on treatments and practices.