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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Viewpoint: Esthetician Legislation: Be Careful What You Wish For

By: Susanne S. Warfield
Posted: July 12, 2013, from the July 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The other casualty of poorly researched legislation will be the schools that teach the esthetic student. Education reform has been around in the United States since the 1980s and is driven by standards and accountability. What should an esthetician know and be able to do when they graduate from esthetic school? Established national standards or job tasks clearly define what the esthetician should be able to do by using a curriculum framework that outlines the specific knowledge or skills the student should have in order to receive a diploma. If one state enacts legislation that is not within an existing national standard, it is the school that is financially impacted. Implementation will include, but is not limited to providing additional teacher education, additional textbooks, additional products and additional equipment needed to provide required practical experience, and medical staff to meet the medical supervision clause, is state-required.

Additional training requirements for teachers already licensed could mean fewer teachers staying in the profession. Providers of training for esthetic teachers, such as NCEA’s National Esthetic Teacher Training and the American Association of Cosmetology Schools' Career Educators Alliance have both stepped up to provide training programs. The recession has impacted schools' budgets and their ability to provide teachers with continuing education. Schools are already feeling the crunch of lower enrollments and now will face further financial issues of funding and having to meet new statues and rules.

Then there are the student considerations. In order for a school to apply for government funding, they need time to write the curriculum and submit for approval to an accreditation agency. If a new school is applying for the first time, the wait can extend beyond two years. Even after receiving accreditation approval there will be additional time restrictions before funding is made available for prospective students of the new program. Without government loans, many students would not be able to enroll in the esthetician program.

Know the issues.

  • Before writing a bill, ensure that the bill and all of its components are within a legal framework of that state. Example: Corporate Practice of Medicine laws.

  • Do not overstate your credentials and or what they represent or their equivalency. Example: Comparative Analysis—Are all esthetic credentials created equal? by Helen Lawrence.

  • Research the opposition and know their position.

  • Research the impact of bill on schools. Contact the national organizations that represent schools such as the American Association of Cosmetology Schools and Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

  • Understand all the esthetic issues—from current state issues to national testing.

  • Always leave an yourself an out and don’t box the profession into a corner—use language to provide a review of statutes as well as provide title or practice protection. Tiered licensing may make sense legislatively, but does it really protect the consumer or cause more confusion? The safety of consumers is why estheticians are licensed in the United States. In over 30 states, a cosmetologist can still perform skin care services under their scope of practice. Add in a two-tiered esthetician licensin—that now brings the total to three different licenses that can work on the consumer performing skin care.

    A consumer most definitely does not know to ask prior to signing a consent form: Are you a cosmetologist? Are you a Basic Esthetician? Or are you a Master Esthetician? The concept of “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” was considered an unsound motto, but clearly how can the consumer of services be sufficiently informed as to what each of these three levels of licensees are able to do? Association of Test Publishers provides a clear definition: “The purpose of licensure is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the consumer public.”

  • Continuing education is key to stay competitive in business and the esthetic profession. Constantly updating and honing skills is how an esthetician can keep up with the changing scientific and technological advancements, new laws and other industry developments.

Having national standards and substantial equivalency is a rationale that better serves esthetician licensees and support mobility of the licensee state-to-state. As more states and estheticians look to become advocates for their profession, don’t forget to do your research and know the facts but most important–think of the impact on the rest of the profession.