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RE: SE Test

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You are correct.  The medical profession has ONE license that basically
sets them up to practice medicine in any state and in any speciality.
Once a doctor gets their MD license they are legally allowed to practice
in _ANY_ sub field of medicine.

The specialities only come into play _IF_ the doctor wants privaledges at
a hospital.  The specialities are "certified" and "policied" by the
medical profession itself, NOT the states (or feds).  For all intends, if
a doctor wants to only establish their own practice and never needs or
wants privaledges at a hospital, then they need not get certified in a
speciality.  If, however, they want privaledges at a hospital, then they
typically MUST get certified in speciality, even if it is as a general

That is at least how my doctor explained it to me when I asked (why I was
involved with the NCSEA Certification committee).


Ypsilanti, MI

On Fri, 7 Nov 2003, Sprague, Harold O. wrote:

> I have to add my 2 cents on this one.
> Tests and even the licenses themselves do not assure that a project will be
> designed with competence.  An SE license will not provide assurance that a
> design will be better than a PE license.  I have done work all over the
> world, and have done peer reviews on projects all over the world.  I have
> reviewed some pretty bad designs by people with their SE license.  I am not
> going to name names, but there are highly regarded engineers that are
> experts in areas like base isolation that do not have an SE.
> I have several friends who are medical doctors and from what I am told
> doctor's licenses to practice medicine are MD's throughout the US.  They
> generally do not take a separate State exam to make them qualified in
> specialties.  The states rely solely on their PROFESSIONAL status to
> practice only in areas for which they are qualified.  Within the profession,
> the MD's have professional groups that certify certain specialty areas, but
> it is generally not administered by the State.  Registered nurses are
> qualified by experience for various areas.  Some are office administrators,
> some are ER and trauma specialists, some specialize in hospice care.  The
> state does not have any different exams to qualify specialties.  The medical
> community relies on the profession to self regulate if a care giver is doing
> work outside of their areas of expertise.
> Are we engineers less professional?
> Now turn your head and cough.
> Regards,
> Harold O. Sprague
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Keith De Lapp [mailto:keith(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Friday, November 07, 2003 2:04 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: SE Test
> Bill, we have to be practical here.  If obtaining a CE or SE license doesn't
> demonstrate some minimum level of competency, then why do it at all?  Are
> you really suggesting that every sub discipline within civil and structural
> (and the other branches mentioned in my earlier email) be independently
> classified, tested and regulated?  For what purpose?  The current system has
> checks and balances.      The PE act states you can't practice in areas
> outside your area of competency.  Therefore, can the hydrologist design a
> building?  No, not legally nor ethically.  Does that stop them from signing
> a set of plans?  No.  If something goes wrong or if the client files a
> complaint, there is a system in place to deal with that.  Negligence "is"
> prosecuted after the fact.  It isn't a perfect system but it seems to work.
> I don't believe more regulation is necessarily the answer.
> Looking at the BORPELS enforcement action publication the problem while it
> exists doesn't appear to be spiraling out of control as your argument
> suggests.  Your comment "...until I (as well as others) think that I have
> the necessary background to do it on my own..." sounds like you want a
> governmental system in place to regulate competency.  If you follow this
> argument to its logical conclusion, you would have to take every
> construction trade out there and further divide it into sub classifications.
> An example would be a concrete contractor who does nothing but tilt-up
> panels and wants to do a cast-in-place garage would have to obtain a
> separate license.  Breadth of practice exists in every profession.
> Bill, what concerns me most about conversations like this, is that we have a
> certain element within our profession that wants to further limit the
> practice of our profession.  For what purpose I ask?  Is it to protect the
> public, or is it to secure ones place in the profession.  If it's the former
> then I would ask what is the magnitude of the harm?  And how does Bill Allen
> propose to solve it?  If it is the latter, then it sounds very much like an
> Ivory Tower syndrome.  I would like to know the motive behind your position
> and ask that you state it here for everyone to read.  In your previous email
> you said "...People taking on projects they're not qualified to do hurts us
> all. We all know why they do it. Work is light. Can't say "no". The problem
> with working in a new material, region, project type, etc. is quantity of
> "unknowns" due to lack of experience. This lack of knowledge tends to drive
> the fee down (again, hurting us all) and problems in the field up (again,
> hurting us all). I can't say I've never done it, but I don't plan to do it
> anymore."  This remark suggest to me that the Ivory Tower syndrome may be at
> play.
> Bill, before you blow a gasket, let me tell you I mean no disrespect towards
> you.  You seem like a good guy and I (as a lurker) have followed your, as
> well as other engineers participation on this forum for many years and have
> learned a lot.  But for me this topic is a bit like taxes.  We keep raising
> and creating new taxes for "good causes" (dubious in my mind) but then some
> time down the road when we feel we are over taxed, we turn and look at each
> other and say "How did this happen, wasn't anybody watching?"
> I believe that the profession and the state has licensed me as a
> professional in civil engineering.  With that comes a code of conduct and
> ethics.  I believe that as a professional, I want to maintain the liberty of
> deciding which engineering markets I would like to pursue.  If additional
> expertise is required then I will obtain it.  I believe that I have to
> satisfy my professional ethics (in regards to competence subject at hand)
> that I have responsibly performed my duties in the interests of public
> safety and my client.  I don't think we need a regulating body further
> verifying competence.  It is of course true that some engineers will take
> advantage of the system.  But there is already a system in place to deal
> with that.  And I believe it works.
> Keith De Lapp, P.E.

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