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Posts published in “Day: February 2, 2023”


Governor Little proudly proclaimed he had “cut red tape” right after his first inauguration four years ago when he restructured the state entity overlooking all the professions. Maybe he cut more than red tape.

You need to understand this system a bit before I get into a full-blown rant.

There are MANY professions in this state that get their sanction to perform their services from state statute. In my short time in the legislature, it seemed like every year another profession wanted to be “licensed”. The health care professions sector alone includes nurses, doctors, physical therapists, and indeed, ten more. For some reason, midwives and genetic counsellors aren’t included in the “health professions”, but instead with the “occupational licenses”, along with another dozen professions, including Outfitters and Guides. This reorganization was supposed to streamline the licensing process.

You might find yourself questioning why the state even gets involved in this licensing process. I know the Freedom Foundation does. Libertarians think any restriction on “free trade” just drives up costs. Does a license somehow ensure the professional you engage provides quality services? We have all followed how a licensed physician, trained to do laboratory tests provided telehealth primary care during the pandemic. And we’ve seen how the Idaho Board of Medicine dismissed complaints, seemingly without investigating them. So, don’t let that $200 annual license fee I pay convince you of the quality of my care.

So, Idaho could just go all cowboy and just let the public beware. There’d sure be less red tape.

But cutting red tape might also mean there’s less folks to answer the phones when there’s a problem.

Let me tell you about a problem. The clinic I work in has tried to hire nurses. Let me tell you, nurses are getting hard to come by. Moreover, the interview process can be long, the background checks take time, but here’s the final delay. Idaho licensure requires nurses to submit fingerprints.

I remember having to submit fingerprints when I got an Idaho medical license. I had to wipe off the embedded grease from cranking my Model T. For some reason back then I didn’t question the need for such a hoop to jump through. Maybe I was numbed by all the premed hoops (physics, organic chem) and medical school hoops (short white coats and board exams) and residency hoops (no sleep).

National nursing organizations support the requirement for fingerprints. Only six states don’t require them. A lot of people seem to think, including Idaho, I guess, it makes sense. Along with the requirement is an FBI background check for past crimes. I’m sure you are comforted that the nurse putting in your urinary catheter has no armed robbery convictions. Maybe not.

Here’s my gripe. Thanks for waiting this long. Both the nurses my clinic hired have had to postpone their start dates a month waiting for their fingerprints to be approved. They have had to submit multiple samples, all at added cost, and always a dely.

I tried to call the Idaho Board of Nursing to ask what the problem was. I got two phone numbers. Both went to voicemail. Neither called me back.

There, you’ve listened to my rant. I apologize. Maybe it got you thinking if we really need this whole licensure thing. I have very strongly mixed feelings about it. If Idaho government is going to give a profession the ability to restrict practice in the marketplace, citizens deserve some confidence in the quality of that state sanctioned profession.

And if the state is going to continue expecting professionals to jump through these licensure hoops, they should be timely. I’m not asking for more red tape. Just someone to answer the phone.