Scope of practice: What’s the big deal?
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
As technology in esthetics moves upward, and new treatments and methods for improving skin come on the market, paying attention to your scope of practice becomes essential to prevent yourself from landing in hot water.
What exactly is "scope of practice"? There is lots of confusion about the term, and the goal here is to provide some clarity for the esthetician who wants to offer the latest and most innovative treatments to help her clients achieve the goal of healthier, more youthful looking skin.
Scope of practice can be interpreted as what you are allowed to do legally as an esthetician licensed in your state. Because there are no nationally recognized standards, each state is different. What an esthetician may be allowed to do in one state may not transfer to another state.
For example, in Washington state an esthetician may apply a medium-depth chemical peel. In Oregon, an esthetician may not. Washington and Oregon are border states, so you might think they would have similar regulations. Nope.
In some states, estheticians are allowed to perform dermaplaning. In other states, it is illegal. In some states, estheticians can perform light energy treatments, like laser hair removal. In other states, it is forbidden.
What if you've gone to a workshop, taken a class or attended a training session? You've got a certificate to prove you're trained on a new treatment option, and you're excited to add it to the menu of services.
Before you get your Facebook and Instagram marketing engines fired up, make sure the new treatment can be performed by an esthetician in your state. Vendors are under no obligation to ensure the training they are providing is within a particular profession's scope of practice. That is your job.
For example, you may have learned fantastic new lymphatic drainage techniques. But if lymphatic drainage is not accepted practice for estheticians in your state, and the state's view is that it belongs in the realm of the massage practitioner, then you cannot perform this treatment.
If you have traveled out of your region to take a class, please check with your state board to ensure you are within your scope of practice before you head off to the printer to have your menu of services revised. Better yet, check before you pay your money to register for the class.
The repercussions can be harsh if you are cited for practicing outside of your scope of practice. Fines can be steep. In Oregon, it's $1,000 for the first offense, $2,500 for the second and $5,000 for the third. That means if you perform a treatment outside of your scope of practice on your first client of the day, it's $1,000. And then your second client of the day, add $2500, and your third client, another $5000. With the fourth offense, you are in danger of losing your license.
You cannot use the excuse that you didn't know. You are a professional. It is a part of your professional integrity to know the limits of what you can and cannot do.
Become familiar with your state board's website. You can find answers there. Don't rely on word-of-mouth answers from other estheticians. Call the state board and get verification.
From time to time, as regulations change, the state will mail out notices to its licensees. Don't stack it on your counter or round-file it before you read it, digest it and understand what it means for you as a skin practitioner.
It's not worth the risk of damaging your reputation and losing your livelihood. We live in a remarkable time for advancement. Being confident that what you are doing is legally permitted will add to your success.
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