The Office of Professional Regulation, commonly known as “OPR,” is a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. Our mission is to protect the public from incompetent or unethical practitioners through a system of licensure. We achieve this by supporting boards and advisor groups that oversee licensure of 46 professions (such as architects and tattooists) and approximately 58,000 licensees.
A Public Protection Mission
When professions are regulated, competency is assured. OPR accomplishes this through licensing boards and advisor groups 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 to 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 haircut
- 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 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 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 practice their profession. Lastly, 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.