Licensure Research & Disclosures: Stakeholder Engagement Tips
Published by: Lindsey Rae Downs | 2/5/2020
Today we have a post from the WCET/State Authorization Network (SAN) Special Interest Team. The Special Interest Teams are workgroups on a designated topic area. This particular special interest team worked on contributions for the network on the issue of professional licensure research and disclosures. Today, the interest team joins us to share ideas for communicating with stakeholders about licensure research and disclosures, especially how to ensure that institutional leadership are on board. Thank you to this team for sharing your ideas and lessons learned.
Enjoy the read and enjoy your day,
Lindsey Downs, WCET
Maintaining accurate licensure disclosures helps ensure that students know whether a program meets licensure requirements in a particular state. Sharing licensure disclosure information with students demonstrates an institution’s commitment to transparency, integrity, and student success. It also protects students from investing time and tuition dollars in a program that ultimately will not meet their licensure or career goals.
Currently effective federal regulations require institutions to disclose online licensure program information in order to disburse Title IV financial aid funds. Effective July 1, 2020, new U.S. Department of Education regulations require institutions to share disclosures for all licensure programs, regardless of whether the program is offered on-campus or online. For example, if an institution offers a Master of Respiratory Therapy licensure program at its brick and mortar campus, the institution must disclose the following information:
Examples of other programs that may be covered by federal disclosure requirements are online and on-campus programs in healthcare fields, such as nursing or physical therapy, and programs that lead to teacher licensure. The State Authorization Network published a detailed analysis of the new federal requirements in a recent Frontiers blog post.
In addition to federal disclosure requirements, institutions that participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) must also meet SARA disclosure requirements. SARA-participating institutions are required to inform students in writing whether a program meets educational requirements for licensure in the state where the student is located.
Providing licensure disclosures promotes transparency regarding licensure program information and serves as an important protection for students. However, completing licensure research is a complex task that requires collaboration with many institutional stakeholders. In response, the WCET/State Authorization Network (SAN) assembled a Special Interest Team to review and discuss licensure research and disclosure topics.
In this blog post, several members of the Special Interest Team compiled lessons they have learned when communicating with stakeholders about licensure research and disclosure requirements, including tips on how to:
Whether you would like to learn more about the work of state authorization staff at your institution, or you are responsible for implementing institutional state authorization strategies, we hope that you find these ideas helpful.
As state authorization staff, we’ve learned the importance of working within the culture and structures of our respective institutions. For example, before meeting with stakeholders to discuss compliance, it’s important to understand how state authorization furthers your institution’s mission, values, and strategic plan. Professional licensure disclosure requirements were put in place to encourage transparency with students and promote student success. Therefore, compliance with these regulations supports your institution’s mission and strategic plan.
Understanding the link between state authorization regulations and your institution’s mission will help you to explain to stakeholders why compliance is important and that a successful strategy requires support from all units. We’ve found that it’s difficult for stakeholders not to support an initiative that furthers the institution’s mission and promotes student success.
In addition to aligning compliance work to the institution’s mission and values, state authorization staff should consider other aspects of institutional culture before reaching out to stakeholders. For example, it may be a requirement or a professional courtesy to contact a department dean or chair before contacting program staff to discuss regulatory requirements. In addition to lending support to your work, leaders can introduce you to key department staff who can share program information and assist with licensure research. Deans and chairs also have the authority to implement new processes in a unit, if necessary. Therefore, maintaining open communication with unit leaders is not only a courtesy but also supports and facilitates conversations with program staff.
As you build relationships with leaders at your institution, you can begin to develop a coalition of state authorization “champions.” Think of champions as key stakeholders who understand the link between state authorization, institutional mission, and student success. Champions can help educate the university community about state authorization and disclosure requirements and lend support to the development of compliance processes. With a network of champions, you can reach more stakeholders across your institution and demonstrate leadership support for the implementation of licensure disclosure policies and processes.
It’s not difficult to identify a potential champion or key stakeholder at your institution; however, it’s not always easy to initiate a conversation with key stakeholders about licensure disclosures. University leaders are likely addressing many other high priority topics and have a limited amount of time to focus on state authorization topics. In addition, authorization and disclosure requirements can be complex and difficult to explain. So how do you get your foot in the door to talk about professional licensure disclosures? Based on our collective experiences, we compiled some tips on how to initiate an initial conversation:
It takes time and effort to initiate and build stakeholder relationships, but leadership support and buy-in is essential to move state authorization compliance work forward.
After a meeting to discuss licensure disclosures is scheduled, you will need to prepare for the conversation. Reviewing relevant unit and licensure program information demonstrates that you are a compliance partner and that you are there to help. Preparation also shows that you are committed to understanding the licensure program, licensure field, and any relevant research challenges.
Specifically, to prepare for a licensure disclosure meeting, we suggest researching the answers to the following questions using the licensure program website, course catalog, and institutional data:
Researching the answers to these questions will prepare you to discuss applicable licensure board approval and disclosure requirements, areas of high risk, and compliance priorities. Questions that you are unable to answer through research should be added to the stakeholder meeting agenda.
As state authorization staff, we have learned that it’s essential to communicate how compliance with state authorization regulations furthers an institution’s mission, values, and goals. It is also important to work within the culture of your institution to identify champions who can build support and move your work forward. Finally, it’s crucial to prepare for stakeholder meetings to demonstrate that you are a partner in developing and implementing a compliance strategy.
We hope these ideas help you to either understand the challenges and goals faced by state authorization staff at your institution or provide insight into your own compliance efforts. In a future post, we’ll dive deeper into the stakeholder meeting and share tips on how to develop meeting resources and follow-up after the meeting.
The WCET/State Authorization Network (SAN) Special Interest Team: