The predicted medical shortages led Georgia to relax certain healthcare worker licensing requirements.
The author of a recent Newnan Times Herald column wrote, “Georgia’s decision to temporarily relax licensing requirements for healthcare workers during the pandemic shows, it would certainly be safe to extend such reforms to many other licensed professions on a lasting basis.” Although there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic, jumping to broadly ease licensing requirements would be fraught with unintended consequences.
Licenses were created to protect market stability, morality, consumers, and importantly, the public health, safety and welfare, as is the case with Registered Professional Engineers.
As dangerous as deficient bus drivers, doctors or pharmacists may be, engineering incompetence could easily endanger hundreds or thousands more. That’s why engineering licensing is rigorous and based on education and responsible experience. It has proven to be the most effective way to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
The public rightly expects high standards of competence, professionalism, and accountability from the professional engineers. Georgians have confidence in their airports, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure because they are designed, built, and maintained by qualified licensed professionals.
Leaders must be very careful to ensure the public continues to be protected and professional licensing standards are not swept aside in broad-brush efforts to help the economy. While everyone wants to see Georgians returning to work and leading normal lives soon, any regulatory or legislative changes must be smart, fair, and measured.
Roger Grabman, PE, NSPE
President, Georgia Society of Professional Engineers