Technologists travel to Washington, DC, in bid to spur on licensing bill

By Erik L. Ridley, AuntMinnie staff writer

April 11, 2000 --

The lobbying effort is heating up to bring into law a nationwide technologist licensing and credentialing program in the U.S. Last week, 80 radiologic technologists descended on Washington, DC, to seek support from representatives and senators for a yet-to-be introduced bill, now called the Consumer Assurance of Radiologic Excellence Act (CARE).

This proposed legislation would establish federal minimum educational and credentialing standards for personnel who plan and deliver radiation therapy and perform all types of medical imaging examinations except sonography. Fifteen states do not currently maintain licensing programs, according to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

The gathering of technologists, organized by the ASRT, was designed to draw legislative support for CARE. Each technologist met with his or her state's representatives to increase awareness of the national disparity in licensing requirements.

"There are people out there taking x-rays who are not registered," said Sharon Wartenbee, a technologist from the McGreevy Clinic in Sioux Falls, SD, a state without a licensing program. "We want to make sure that all people receive good medical care."

While no formal support was secured, the ASRT reports that at least one senator has expressed interest in sponsoring the bill, and eight representatives are seriously considering co-sponsorsing the bill with Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY).

In addition, Lazio told ASRT officials that the bill will be introduced during this session of Congress, and likely this spring. If enacted in current form, the act would mandate accreditation standards for institutions providing education to technologists, and credentialing of persons who administer medical imaging and radiation therapy procedures. Credentialing standards would include minimum criteria for education, experience, examination, and other criteria chosen by the U.S. Health and Human Services department.

States would be required to establish and maintain licensing programs compliant with the standards, and prohibit practicing without a license. The act has the backing of 11 organizations representing more than 200,000 radiologic technologists, as well as organizations representing patients, veterans, and physicians, according to ASRT.

Although a federal licensing mandate might seem to exacerbate the general shortage of radiologic technologists, supporters of the bill believe that the tight market makes the legislation all the more important.

"Because of the shortage, we're worried that the 15 states without licensing requirements can basically hire people off the street," said Ceela McElveny, director of public relations for the ASRT. "This could lead to an increase in hiring of unqualified people, and that's exactly what we want to prevent."

In addition, two states -- New York and California -- studied this issue before and after implementation of a licensing program, and found no effect on manpower supply, according to the ASRT.

By Erik L. Ridley staff writer
April 11, 2000

See also: Lobbying effort builds for mandatory tech licensure. March 3, 2000.

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