It’s late at night, and you finally have a chance to catch up with social media. You find that you have messages from your friends saying that your state board just announced that the most important services that you perform are out of scope. In fact, some have even been fined for having these services listed on their menu. What do you do?
Your first reaction is to lash out via social media about your frustration, send a nasty e-mail to the state board and generally get really angry. All these reactions are understandable ... but not very effective. Unfortunately, this situation is not an unusual occurrence. As state boards try to react to changing technology and pressure from outside groups, these types of situations can happen at any time. The good news is there is a way to deal with this in a productive way.
Understand your state board
Your state board is not the enemy. Its primary purpose is to protect consumers from harm. It’s not interested in dictating how to do your job; only to make sure that the statute passed by the state legislature is followed. Your board has two parts: the appointed members of the board and the state administrators.
The appointed members of the board are named by the governor and can include an esthetician. This is unusual, because most states don’t require an esthetician’s presence on the board. This poses a significant challenge when it comes to understanding the skin care profession. It also offers a great opportunity to educate board members about what you do every day and why you do it.
Your board administrators are state employees, and are responsible for administrating rules and regulations implemented by the board. They have to make the best possible decision based on the information they have at the time. They will take all of their recommendations to the board to vote on, and then take any new regulations to the enforcement division for implementation. Getting correct and timely information to the administrator’s staff is key to addressing any concerns that you may have.
How to educate your board
Some boards are very responsive to their licensees, and others are not. The personality of your board can only be determined by going to a state board meeting and engaging with them. Regardless, there are certain approaches that work better than others. The best thing to remember is the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. No one responds well to anger, illogical arguments and poor communication.
Boards are looking for the following.
- Accurate information based on professional best practices, science and a history of safety. This can be provided through written textbooks, studies and insurance claim data.
- A unified voice from the skin care profession. If dissent within the profession exists, acknowledging and respecting it should be presented, as well.
- Knowledge of existing statutes, regulations and board procedures. It is important for you to be well-informed of the process, as well as how to find information, and what currently exists in statute and regulation. If a certain deadline exists for comments, the board expects you to know when that deadline is.
- Involvement. Get to a board meeting at least once a year if you plan on adding your voice to mix. This will give you credibility.
Connecting with others for impact
Providing information and education to your board can be a time-consuming process. When you are working in a treatment room all day long, the ability to take the time to find information and provide education is very limited. When a situation comes up in your state, it is important to connect with organizations that represent your best interests in the process or can give you accurate information to help you mobilize your peers into action.
Associations are regularly called to represent their members during the legislative and regulation process. Understanding what your association can do for you is really important. The skin care profession has several associations with different focuses. Some focus solely on legislative process and credentialing, and they represent licensed individuals, manufacturers and others. Others focus solely on education, protection and representation of licensed individuals. The key questions to ask when deciding to join an association are the following.
- What is this association going to do to represent my interests?
- What benefits can it provide for me?
- Will I have help when I need it?
- Does it have a credible presence within my profession?
It is not uncommon for a professional to have multiple association affiliations based on their needs throughout their career. There is no right or wrong in this decision; the only thing that is important is that you are part of a body of professionals that can stand up in front of the board and have substantial representation.
As activist Sonia Johnson said: “We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.” One person is not as effective as a group with the same vision.
You can make a difference
With that said, it is important to note that you can make a difference. Your experience, knowledge and ability to communicate are very important to every group you are a part of. Your expertise can be expressed by:
- Writing letters to the board submitted through your association or group;
- Monitoring social media and posting feedback. Keep in mind that all posts should be positive, factual and short. Don’t push your emotional agenda, just the facts; and
- Providing outreach to your clients and other estheticians. You can be a positive conduit for information.
This series of articles, which will appear every other month in Skin Inc. magazine, will address how to understand your scope, modalities you can use and risk management. Each article will have an action plan to help you determine the steps to take in order to make a difference. Remember: There are plenty of available options for you to get involved and help protect your profession. Follow This Month’s Action Plan today!
Susanne Schmaling is the director of education for Associated Skin Care Professionals. A licensed esthetician and experienced instructor with more than 15 years of experience, Schmaling is also a member of the 2014–2015 Skin Inc. Editorial Advisory Board.