Scope of practice

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Health practitioners and professionals
Related health care
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Health practitioners and professionals
Related health care

Scope of Practice is a terminology used by national and state/provincial licensing boards for various professions that defines the procedures, actions, and processes that are permitted for the licensed individual. The scope of practice is limited to that which the law allows for specific education and experience, and specific demonstrated competency. Each jurisdiction has laws, licensing bodies, and regulations that describe requirements for education and training, and define scope of practice.


In most jurisdictions, health care professions with scope of practice laws and regulations include any profession within health care that requires a license to practice such as physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and dentists among many others.[1][2]

Governing, licensing, and law enforcement bodies are often at the sub-national (e.g. state or province) level, but federal guidelines / regulations also often exist. For example, in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the Department of Transportation has a national scope of practice for emergency medical services.


Scope of practice can be easily identified by three categories.[3] If requirements for practicing a skill or profession satisfy all three requirements then it is within that persons scope of practice:

  1. Education and training — Has the person been educated academically or on-the-job and have documentation proving education to do the item in question?
  2. Governing body — Does your state, district, province or federal government that oversees the skill or profession allow (or not explicitly disallow) the item in question?
  3. Institution — Does the institution allow a person or their profession to do the item in question?


See also[edit]


  1. ^ AOSW Scope of Practice, Association of Oncology Social Work.
  2. ^ CA LAc Scope of Practice summary, Acupuncturists & related alternative health fields.
  3. ^ Sherwood, Gwen D., et al. (1997). "Defining Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice: Expanding Primary Care Services", The Internet Journal of Advanced Nursing Practice, 1(20), 1997. (ISSN 1523-6064)[dead link]
  4. ^ Final Draft of the National EMS Scope of Practice Model, September 2005.[dead link]

External links[edit]