Last week we defined a few terms and made a few arguments to support my basic position on protecting Joe Citizen. This week I'd like to establish a pecking order for prioritizing the safety of the three parties involved and see if we can establish a common-sense platform from which to operate.
My Position on the Prioritization of Safety Is…
Joe Citizen comes first, then the needs and wants of Supervisors, then the desires of the new kids on the block, the Associates. In that order.
The current debate appears to be focused on only the wants of the Associates with very little said about the protection of Joe, and almost nothing addressing the increased liability to the Supervisor. Why is that?
Who's Watching Joe?
For the sake of making my point clear, let's assign Joe a majority stakeholder position especially since protecting Joe is the State mandate for The Board(s) and BHEC. It’s the reason they exist. Sound fair?
We'll give him a permanent 51% position. That means Joe always wins out in any argument involving the other parties and the protection of the public. Always. Joe always gets the benefit of the doubt, especially when there is no data to support a change in position.
I heard Board Members during the last meeting asking, "Is there any reason we shouldn't do this?". What we should be asking is, "Is there a good reason we should be doing this and can we support that position and quantify any potential damage to Joe Citizen with real data?". If not, we all go home.
If Susie Jumped off the Roof, Would You?
Some Board members want to point to the experience of other mental health Boards and claim that since their barn hasn't yet burned down that it must be ok to play with matches in our back-yard. I'm thinking that logic makes Joe very nervous.
What About the Supervisors?
Very little discussion has been given to the Supervisors' position, relative to the volume of time the Associates have seen. Despite that, the point has been very clearly made that the Supervisors are very, very concerned about the potential liability they would be absorbing if Associates are allowed to practice without the proper training needed.
No Problem, We'll Write a Rule!
It has been suggested that all The Board needs to do to eliminate that risk is write a couple sentences in the Board Rules absolving Supervisors of any additional risk exposure from contracted Associates. This sounds like an idea from someone who has never been sued.
Here's the problem with that thinking. The future Plaintiffs and their attorneys will never read or give credence to any of that "protection". Your little paragraph will have no effect at all on preventing my name from appearing in a law-suit caused by an Associate too impatient to undergo proper training. Lawyers will place the name of anyone they think has "the money" on a suit and the Defendant (that's me!) will have to pay real money I'll never get back to defend myself from yet another frivolous lawsuit. That's what happens in the real world.
I think I can speak for those of us who "get it" when I say that we don't want the increased exposure to our licenses and livelihoods just so a very small minority (less than 1%) of the total Associate population can have their way. Especially if Joe doesn’t benefit.
Please, Own Your Own Business!
No one or no current law is preventing any Associate from "owning a business" per the definition last week. Go for it. In fact, creating an LLC for yourself, even as an Associate, is probably a very good defensive position to take. After all, even an Associate can have a complaint filed against them.
On Practicum Hours and Readiness
The 300 practicum hours Associates compile in grad school? If those hours include training for HIPAA compliance, owning and distribution of medical records requests, your State's compliance requirements and a host of other "practice-specific skillsets", then I might be more inclined to bend an ear towards the Associates' change request.
Otherwise, come back and see me after you've been properly trained in all the areas in which you have the potential to cause me, and Joe Citizen, massive harm.
The protection of Joe Citizen always comes first. Always. Then we must protect our Supervisors from unnecessary exposure, then we can address the needs and wants of the Associates. If we don't, Joe will suffer, the quality of our Supervisory pool will quickly degrade, and the harm inflicted upon the next generation of mental health providers won't be pretty.
I still have a few more arguments that I'd like to address (from Board Members, Associates, public comments) but we'll do that next week.
And now you know.
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
This post is my opinion based on almost 30 year practice as a mental health provider. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.