The Office of Professional Regulation, commonly known as "OPR," is a division of the Secretary of State's Office responsible for supporting the boards and advisor groups overseeing licensure for 45 different professions and about 58,000 licensees, ranging from Architects to Tattooists. The mission of OPR is public protection from incompetent or unethical practitioners through a system of licensure.
A Public Protection Mission
When professions are regulated, competency is assured. OPR accomplishes this through licensing boards and advisors by ensuring that applicants are qualified, complaints of unprofessional conduct are investigated and prosecuted, and standards of practice are well defined. This further safeguards the public who may lack a basis for judging what constitutes acceptable quality in service or conduct.
Disciplinary action against a licensee can include sanctions such as a reprimand, restrictions on the ability to practice, a monetary penalty or even revocation of a professional’s license. Such action helps to rid the profession of incompetent, unethical, and dishonest practitioners, correct inappropriate behaviors, and rehabilitate those practitioners who can safely maintain their licenses. It also serves notice on others that the regulatory agency will not tolerate practitioners whose activities may be contrary to the public interest.
How does this affect me?
In a typical busy month, any one of us might run the following "errands" and receive the services of several licensed professionals without giving much thought to the qualifications of those who provide these services. For example, you might:
- Get your hair cut
- Look into buying or selling a home
- Get an appraisal as part of refinancing your mortgage
- Ask a security guard for help
- Visit the hospital or your local health clinic
- Have your teeth cleaned
- Visit a relative at a nursing home
- Get your eyes checked
- Take your dog or cat to the Vet
- Prepay your funeral arrangements
- Visit the chiropractor, physical therapist, athletic trainer or acupuncturist about that achy joint
- Pick up a prescription from your local pharmacy
- Buy a hearing aid
- Have a session with a mental health counselor or psychologist
- Venturing outside your home, you will encounter the work done by licensed engineers, architects, appraisers, and land surveyors
- Your health often depends upon nurses, naturopaths, pharmacists, physical therapists, chiropractors, dentists, opticians, osteopaths, acupuncturists, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, psychologists and optometrists to determine what health care services you require and to perform those services safely and competently.
For each of these seemingly simple “errands,” there is a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes to ensure your safety. The first hard work comes from the professional who must meet certain education, exam and experience requirements in order to prove their qualifications for licensure. Next, once licensed, the professional must meet a set of standards governing how they must practice their profession. Last but certainly not least, there is a system in place to investigate complaints from the public and, in some cases, restrict a licensee’s ability to practice a profession when necessary to protect the public.