I recently posted on the status of continuing competency requirements for occupational therapists in NY State. In summary, my concern is that the bill for these requirements has been stalled in senate committees but a very similar requirement for physical therapists just passed. I wrote to NYSOTA asking about an update on this issue and have not received any response.
Of course this is an issue that I have all kinds of historical interest in - and it is no secret to anyone that I am a long-term volunteer for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. This is where my passion over the issues of competence and competency was born and bred.
Still, my feelings on this matter also have a lot to do with the perceived legitimacy of occupational therapy as a profession and broad protection of the public. Regulation is sometimes unnecessary and stifling - I am not a believer in the nanny-state. However, health professions are historically unable to police themselves appropriately - and occupational therapy is absolutely no different than any other health profession. Case in point:
In New York State the therapist treating your grandparent who fractured a hip or your child who has cerebral palsy only needs to pass a certification exam ONCE. There is no requirement that this therapist ever steps foot inside a classroom or continuing education course EVER AGAIN. There is no requirement for them to advance their knowledge and competency in any way. Even if they DO decide to pursue continuing education our current models are accepting any continuing education course from a provider that is IACET approved.
Now consumers might not realize that there are many IACET approved courses that have truly dubious content. A recent local example is a continuing education course for Western New York occupational therapists on Quantum Touch. Undoubtedly, continuing education organizers and providers reap reasonable financial dividends through their offerings; I am just so disappointed to see that occupational therapy professionals in my own community who offer continuing education would advance themselves over the larger well-being of the people we are entrusted to provide services to. Please, someone help me here: in what way is this Quantum Touch quackery consistent with the scope of practice of occupational therapy?
So watch out, Western New York consumers! Even if your therapist does attend continuing education courses - make sure that they aren't attending continuing education that is based on mysticism. The New York State Occupational Therapy Association is silent - only choosing to comment on other bills. When it comes to protection, the public has to look out for itself.