I was recently forwarded a post on a message board that discussed a new law potentially coming up in Maryland that would lump all alternative healing practitioners (e.g., chiropractors, acupuncturists, life coaches, Reiki, etc.) under the authority and regulation of the nursing board.
While I do agree that some form of regulation needs to be in place to counter frauds and to ensure safe and healthy practices, this regulation seems illogical and harmful. Not only is the bill not well-worded–some key terms are left undefined, such as “team relationship” (what the hell does that mean??)–but it would require anyone who gives counsel, aids in rehabilitation, administers treatment or medication, or promotes preventive measures in community health to be licensed by the Nursing Board. If you’re not licensed, you can’t practice.
This language is terribly broad, as someone else pointed out:
“The language of the bill is so broad that it would require breathworkers, midwives, doulas, herbalists, life coaches, sound/music therapists, art and poetry therapists, movement, dance, and eurythmy therapists, samyama healing practitioners, meditation teachers, acupuncturists, massage therapists, bodyworkers (reiki, zero balancing, rolfing, etc.) yoga therapists, ayurvedic consultants, counselors and other practitioners of alternative healing arts to become registered nurse practitioners and meet all requirements set by the Nursing Board. Many believe that the Nursing Board could arbitrarily set higher standards for non-Western medical arts as a way to push out alternative healing practitioners.”
This bill sounds like a terrible idea to me. It’s so broad, and its terms so vague, that it encompasses a great number of people who are practicing safely, and who are practicing something that would never, in a sane world, be classified under “nursing.” Most of these kinds of people have accreditation or training through some kind of board, or are licensed through some organization, and those licensing organizations tend to police their own and have their own sets of rules. Why is that not enough?
Yes, there are frauds out there, and yes, there are those who don’t do everything they should to practice safely and in the best interests of the client. However, that doesn’t mean that the entire alternative health community needs to be lumped under a bill like this and essentially chased out of business.
Regulation does need to exist. For example, some counties in Maryland regulate tarot readers, to mitigate fraud. It’s a fair idea, and the fee for the permit to practice is fairly reasonable. However, a bill like the one proposed above does not regulate alternative options for health treatment–it shuts down those options and chases alternative practitioners out of town.