Specified Scope of Practice
1.0 INTRODUCTIONThe Specified Scope of Practice Task Force established by The Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA) is actively exploring the concept of providing for a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure within the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act (EGGP Act). As a result of deliberations to date, the task force considers that the concept has merit and should be examined in more detail. This evolution of a form of licensure is seen to be consistent with a guideline produced by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers in 1992. APEGGA Council has reviewed and endorses the task force conclusions. This discussion paper has been prepared to provide background information and to seek stakeholder feedback.
2.0 BACKGROUNDCurrently individuals with the requisite years of relevant experience may be granted full professional membership status provided that:
- they have acquired a degree in engineering, geology or geophysics from an accredited university, or
- they have passed examinations assessed by the Board of Examiners to confirm or to supplement their academic status.
It is recognized that self governance is a privilege delegated to a profession only when the public interest is best served by doing so. Important parts of "public interest" are the standards of professional service, environmental stewardship, and the safety of those exposed directly or indirectly to the work of self-governing professionals
The task force acknowledges that there are some individuals who do not have the credentials required for full professional membership but who, by virtue of their post-secondary education, combined with a number of years of relevant experience, could be allowed to practice within a specified scope of engineering, geology or geophysics, and to accept responsibility for such practice without posing a threat to public interest. Such individuals include scientists as well as technologists. They also include some of those with offshore degrees whose academic training is not considered broad enough for full professional registration. Some become discouraged at the prospect of having to write several examinations and may drop out of the professional workforce altogether. Introduction of a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure for suitably qualified applicants will be a responsible way of recognizing the competence of these individuals.
The proposed Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure will enable individuals who currently do not have the credentials required for professional membership, but who do have an acceptable combination of academic training and experience, to undertake and to accept responsibility for specified activities that fall within the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics as defined by the EGGP Act. Public safety will be assured by requiring that the new category of practitioner be subject to the same Code of Ethics, practice reviews, discipline, and continuing competency requirements as apply to full professional members.
3.0 SPECIFIED SCOPE OF PRACTICEThis is not a new concept. It is addressed in national guidelines issued by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) in 1992.
The Professional Engineers of Ontario included a provision for issuing limited licenses in their 1984 Act revisions. It is quite restrictive and a small number of limited licenses have been granted.
The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC) incorporated provisions for limited licensure in their Act changes of 1993 and Bylaw revisions of 1994. Draft guidelines for registration dated April 20, 1995 provide a definition of limited licensure as follows:
" The Limited License is intended to recognize and to formalize the fact that certain individuals, whose academic background or experience is not sufficient for them to become registered as full Professional Engineers or Professional Geoscientists in British Columbia, can be permitted to carry out certain specific functions, normally within the definition of the practices of professional engineering or professional geoscience and to do so independently and without the supervision of a Professional Engineer or a Professional Geoscientist. It is an official authorization granted to an individual who is deemed qualified to engage in the practice of professional engineering or professional geoscience within a specifically and strictly limited scope of work."
In Alberta, if a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure is to be adopted, registration criteria will take into account discussions and feedback from stakeholders. In general, however, it is anticipated that some or all of the following will apply:
- establishment as a new category of licensure within EGGP Act and Regulations;
- a specified scope for each candidate will be defined and described in terms of a specialized function or activity;
- applicants will have acquired a minimum number of years of experience in their specified scope of practice;
- applicants' experience and education credentials will be evaluated by APEGGA's Board of Examiners;
- the new category of practitioner will be subject to the same Code of Ethics, practice review, discipline, and continuing competency requirements as apply to current members;
- the new category will be provided with a restricted title and stamp or seal..
4.0 POTENTIAL IMPACTSIt is recognized that introduction of a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure will be viewed in different ways by different stakeholders. Before proceeding further, the task force wishes to hear and consider the questions, concerns and support that individuals or groups are prepared to offer.
Following is a summary of some of the impacts that may be expected.
4.1 Potential Applicants
The intent of the Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure will be to enable technologists, scientists, and others who are suitably qualified, to practice in a specified area of engineering, geology or geophysics, independently and to assume full responsibility for their work.
Natural and physical scientists currently practice in their area of science with no impact from the EGGP Act and Regulations. The licensure discussed in this document will not change this fact.
Technologists, scientists and others are currently able to practice in areas defined by the EGGP Act as engineering, geology and geophysics, provided that a professional member supervises and takes responsibility for such practice. The licensure discussed in this document will not change this fact.
4.2 The Public
Public interests and safety will not be compromised by the introduction of a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure.
Successful candidates will be recommended for licensure by full professionals and will be screened for acceptance by other professionals. They will continue to practice in their demonstrated, specialized skill area. They will be able to accept full responsibility for their work and will be governed by APEGGA's Code of Ethics, practice review, discipline process and requirement for continuing competence.
Currently the public relies on a professional member's adherence to APEGGA's Code of Ethics and trusts that they do restrict their practice to those areas where they have acquired appropriate training and experience. This will also be the case for an individual provided with a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure.
4.3 Existing Professional Members
Successful applicants for a Specified Scope of Practice category of licensure (or membership) will continue to work within the specified area of expertise in which they were engaged prior to being accepted. Introduction of a Specified Scope of Practice will not, however, increase the number of individuals practicing within the professions of engineering, geology or geophysics.
5.0 CONCLUSIONEfforts are now being made to contact and to solicit feedback from all identified stakeholders. These efforts will include discussion forums, telephone calls, letters and the provision of information to relevant professional and technical publications.
Comments to the Task Force on this discussion paper are welcome. Please write, fax or e-mail to:
Mr. A.J. (Al) Schuld, P. Eng.
1500 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton AB T5J 4A2
FAX: (403) 426-1877
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Task Force MembersD. A. Lindberg, P. Eng. (Chair)
F. D. Otto, P. Eng.
R. H. Savage, P. Eng.
J. K. Williams, P. Eng.
M. J. Ozubko, P. Eng.
D. M. Leask, P. Geol., P. Geoph.
R. Ross, P. Eng.
A.J. Schuld, P. Eng. (Staff)
January 31, 1996