The Crossroads of Law and Dentistry: An Example of How a Recent Legislative Action Can Impact your Future
Many components have an effect on the profession and the day-to-day life of dentists, including changing technology and educational requirements, among others. An often under-looked component regarding the dental profession, that may affect dentists and future dentists substantially, is the changing landscape of state and federal laws that impact the dental profession.
In most respects, state laws and policies have the most direct impact on dentists; the state regulates dentists who practice within it. In Colorado, the State Board of Dental Examiners, a regulatory board under the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), bears the authority for dental regulation. The State Board of Dental Examiners is subject to the “Sunset Process”, meaning that the Board’s existence terminates if the state legislature does not act to continue the board by a certain date, usually after an extensive review of and often with modifications to how they operate.
The Colorado legislature completed its sunset review of the State Board of Dental Examiners earlier this year and voted to continue the Board through September 1, 2014 (Colorado House Bill 14-1227). It also made changes to the Dental Practice Law of Colorado, many of them administrative or technical, but it also included changes which have a tangible impact on dentists. For example, one change addresses discipline for certain, unauthorized anesthesia usage on patients; another change mandates 30 hours of continuing education, every 2 years, for dentists and dental hygienists.
The Colorado legislature implemented the changes, largely based on recommendations from DORA itself and other interested parties, such as the Colorado Dental Association. One recommendation that the legislature did not address in its completed sunset review, however, was a recommendation from DORA to address potential alternatives for the clinical component of dental licensure testing. In its recommendation to the legislature, DORA specifically requested the legislature to “Revise the clinical examination requirement to allow the Board to accept other methods of evaluating clinical competency….” In its recommendation, DORA noted that “[t]he notion that a clinical examination can be something other than a one-time, high-stakes examination performed on a real patient is gaining broader acceptance…the General Assembly should expand the law to allow the Board, at its discretion, to accept alternate methods of evaluating clinical competency…” (The entire DORA recommendation is available HERE.)
Despite DORA’s recommendation, the Colorado legislature failed to address changing certain clinical examination requirements. The Colorado legislature may address this in a future piece of legislation; however, it is also possible that the legislature will not address this until the next sunset review deadline, around 2023. If the Colorado legislature addressed this recommendation by DORA, the proposed changes to the clinical examination process would surely be in students’ best interest, as it could expand the opportunities for licensure applicants to demonstrate their clinical acumen.
~Becky Bye, JD, Class of 2018, Colorado ASDA Alternate Delegate