“I can tell you from personal experience: when we are with our family members in a hospital setting that involves neurodiagnostic technology, [we] the consumers assume that you folks are licensed,” said Jennifer Montgomery, who has been the Governmental & Grassroots Advocacy Manager of ASET: The Neurodiagnostic Society for the last couple of years. “It’s been really eye-opening to me as a family member to realize that’s not the case.”
Montgomery said this during her talk on the importance of professional licensure at the annual ASET meeting in Kansas City last year. To put this issue into perspective, in most states manicurists are required to be licensed. No state offers or requires licensure for neurodiagnostic technologists.
Montgomery and her colleagues at ASET are hoping to change this, and for good reason. Neurodiagnostic technologists play an integral role in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with serious spinal cord and brain conditions. They are often part of the team present to care for the patient in the operating room, and they play no small part in helping to prevent sentinel events.
“We believe in protecting the patient, and we want the best possible people involved in neurodiagnostic technology,” said Montgomery. “So licensure is a logical step toward pursuing a more professional standard for the profession.”
But there are other benefits of licensure, and these get at the heart of some of the biggest issues facing the neurodiagnostic technology profession today.
Licensure would elevate neurodiagnostics to a state-sanctioned profession, increasing its recognition by both the public and other healthcare professionals. Licensure would also create a more cohesive scope of practice for all practitioners within a given state, making it much easier to switch jobs.
One of the biggest issues today was one brought up by Leisha L. Osburn, a former ASET President, at the 2010 annual meeting: encroachment. The encroachment of other healthcare practitioners into the field of neurodiagnostics was then and continues to be a very real threat.
In 2003 the Wyoming Respiratory Care Act was passed. It included neurodiagnostics as part of the scope of practice for licensed respiratory therapists. This means—to perform EEGs in Wyoming you must be a respiratory therapist, said Osburn. “If we do not cautiously progress toward licensure of our profession, pressure from other health care professions will eventually result in our demise.”
This sense of urgency has led ASET to put their full weight behind state licensure. Montgomery, a trained lobbyist, (and the speaker mentioned at the start of this article) was brought on board for this very reason. She outlined the following ongoing efforts:
- ASET has formed licensing committees in states where it has been determined licensure is attainable, like California and Texas.
- ASET has crafted model legislation to assist these licensing committees in creating bills tailored to their individual states.
- ASET has established a $20,000 grant to help pay the cost of a lobbyist for states that are prepared to move forward with the introduction of a licensure bill.
“The road to licensure is complicated,” said Montgomery. “I am not here to tell you that it’s going to be a piece of cake, but it is achievable. You all are the best advocates for your profession. We can help you with as many resources as you need, but you guys are gonna have to get out there and be the faces of the industry. Get involved.”
You can learn more about state licensure and how to get involved by visiting ASET’s Legislative & Regulatory Action Center.
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