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On July 12, 2014, the Oregon Veterinary Examining Board ruled that criminal background checks of veterinarians and veterinary technicians must be conducted prior to obtaining their licenses.
The decision was made based on a state audit in March and is effective immediately.
The audit, which looked at the licensing boards of 17 health-related industries, disclosed that of those 17 boards, three lacked background checks: veterinary, occupational therapy and speech pathology and audiology.
While background checks in occupational therapy and speech pathology and audiology seems necessary due to their work with the elderly, disabled and children, an argument could possibly be made against background checks in the veterinary industry. However, the audit argues that “Veterinarians have prescribing power and access to medications that are at risk for misuse.” The Secretary of State recommends “boards give further consideration to background check policies for professionals who handle drugs or interact with vulnerable populations.”
The Board’s decision to comply with the Secretary of State’s recommendation means increased fees for license applicants. They will be responsible for the $50 fee for the FBI-maintained fingerprint background check conducted by Oregon State Police. In addition, applicants must undergo live-scan fingerprinting within the state of Oregon. This fee is also the responsibility of the applicant.
The increased fees may require legislative approval.
Veterinarians and veterinary technicians who already hold licenses will be subjected to annual background checks via state and federal databases. As of December 31, 2013, there were 3,365 veterinary licensees in Oregon.
Lori Makinen, executive director of the Oregon Veterinary Examining Board, told Portland Tribune, “If there is a hit, we will go back and see whether [an incident] was reported by the licensee. If it was not, we would go from there.”
The Board must undergo rule amendments to be able to conduct criminal background checks. They’ve taken formal steps to adopt the new rules and are scheduled to file those new amendments by August 10th with the Secretary of State. The board will also post the proposed amendments on their site. Voting for or against the adoption of the new amendments will take place at the Board’s next meeting, scheduled for October 18, 2014.