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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 97-2035




[49 PA. CODE CH. 41]

Continuing Education

[27 Pa.B. 6566]

   The State Board of Psychology (Board) amends § 41.59 (relating to continuing education) to read as set forth in Annex A.

   The amendment revises the existing continuing education requirements for biennial renewal to provide more flexibility to psychologists in their choice of continuing education programs and to expand the opportunities for meeting the requisite contact hours for continuing education credit.

   Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 26 Pa. B. 2819 (June 15, 1996). Publication was followed by a 30-day public comment period during which the Board received comments from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association (PPA). The PPA expressed its strong support for the Board's proposal, commenting that the amendments accurately reflect the diversity of experiences by which psychologists keep current with changes in the knowledge base of their profession.

   Following the close of the public comment period, the Board also received comments from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). Neither the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee nor the House Professional Licensure Committee offered comments, suggestions or objections regarding the amendment.

   The amendment reflected in Annex A is responsive to the comments and suggestions received by IRRC. In addition, the Board considered this rulemaking and its purpose under the directives of Executive Order 1996-1, Regulatory Review and Promulgation. This final-form regulation is responsive to requests and suggestions from licensees on how to improve the regulation for the betterment of the profession and otherwise complies with Executive Order 1996-1.

   For ease of reference, the Board will address IRRC's comments in the order in which the amendments appear.

§ 41.59(b).  Continuing education requirement for biennial renewal.

   As proposed, § 41.59(b) required that a psychologist take a minimum of 30 contact hours of continuing education courses which included at least 3 contact hours in ethical issues. The proposal also allowed 10 contact hours in excess of the required 30 contact hours to be carried over from one biennium to the next biennium.

   IRRC commented that the regulation is not clear on the issue of whether a licensee may carry excess ethical contact hours. IRRC recommended that the Board clarify the regulation by stating whether a licensee must take at least 3 ethical contact hours per biennium or whether a licensee may carry over extra ethical contact hours to the next biennium, resulting in a licensee not having to take ethical courses from that biennium.

   The Board did not consider this issue during its initial discussions, and thanks IRRC for raising this question. Having discussed the issue, the Board is of the view that a psychologist should take at least 3 contact hours per biennium in ethical issues. As stated in the Preamble to its notice of proposed rulemaking, the Board's primary objective with respect to the ethics requirement is to increase psychologists' understanding of ethical issues as they develop in today's practice and to reduce the number of complaints against psychologists which result from ethical infractions. This objective will best be accomplished by requiring psychologists to take at least 3 contact hours in ethical issues per biennium.

§ 41.59(c).  Reports to the Board.

   Proposed § 41.59(c) deleted the requirement that psychologists list, at the time of biennial renewal, the continuing education courses or programs attended. This information is now required only from psychologists who are randomly selected by the Board for an audit of continuing education compliance.

   Although IRRC did not express opposition to this change, IRRC requested the Board to explain how the deletion of the requirement will enhance its ability to ensure compliance with the continuing education requirements.

   There is no assurance that deletion of the paperwork requirement will enhance continuing education compliance; deletion of this requirement does, however, expedite the renewal process. Moreover, in light of the audit procedure implemented by the Board, the paperwork is not necessary. Under the audit procedure, the Board depends on random audits of 10% of its licensee population to assure continuing education compliance. Forms are no longer utilized. Since the forms are no longer utilized or reviewed by Board staff there is no justifiable reason to burden psychologists with this needless paperwork.

§ 41.59(f).  Instruction.

   Proposed § 41.59(f) provides, in part, that an individual course or workshop may be credited to the instructor only once. IRRC questioned whether the intent of the regulation is to allow a licensee to receive credit for teaching the same course once in the biennium and then again in a future biennium, or whether the intent is to allow credit for teaching a course only once and never again.

   The original intent of this language was to guard against licensees receiving credit for presenting the same lecture in an individual course or workshop time after time. Upon further reflection, however, the Board realizes that as materials and subject matters change, the assumption is that the course content of these courses or workshops will be updated, resulting in substantively different presentations.

   In an effort to reconcile its original concern with the realization that instructors should be given credit for lectures which, although similar in subject matter, are substantively different in content, the Board has amended this language to read ''[a]n individual course or workshop may be credited to the instructor only once every 4 years.'' The Board is of the view that in a 4-year period, the course content of individual courses or workshops will be updated and revised to keep up with new and emerging issues as they develop in today's practice.

§ 41.59(f)(2).  Definition of approved sponsor.

   IRRC's final comment relates to the term ''approved sponsor'' as it appears in § 41.59(f)(2). IRRC correctly observed that the regulation allows a licensee to receive continuing education credit by teaching a workshop for an ''approved sponsor,'' but, does not state who is considered to be an approved sponsor. IRRC therefore recommended that the Board clarify the regulation by defining who is considered to be an approved sponsor.

   In its attempt to respond to this comment, the Board discovered that the terms ''providers'' and ''sponsors'' as they appear in § 41.59 are not used in their proper context. The Board's original intent was to approve sponsors of continuing education courses and programs--not providers. A sponsor is, in general terms, the person or organization that approves the provider of a continuing education course or program; a provider is generally the person who offers the course or program. The Board's regulation as adopted June 13, 1992 (22 Pa. B. 2982), has the Board approving providers when the intent (and current practice of the Board) is only to approve sponsors.

   To correct this error and to respond to IRRC's concern, the Board has changed the word ''providers'' where it appears throughout § 41.59 to ''sponsors.'' With this amendment, the regulation now reads correctly and responds to IRRC's suggestion by stating in paragraphs (3) and (4) who is considered to be an approved ''sponsor.''

Compliance with Executive Order 1996-1, Regulatory Review and Promulgation

   The Board reviewed this rulemaking and considered its purpose and likely impact upon the public and the regulated population under the directives of ExecutiveOrder 1996-1, Regulatory Review and Promulgation. The final-form regulation addresses a compelling public interest as described in this Preamble and otherwise complies with Executive Order 1996-1.

Fiscal Impact

   The amendment should have no negative fiscal impact upon the Commonwealth, its political subdivisions or the general public.

Paperwork Requirements

   The amendment should not result in additional paperwork requirements.

Statutory Authority

   The amendment is adopted under the dual authority of sections 3.2(2) and 15 of the Professional Psychologists Practice Act (act) (63 P. S. §§ 1203.2(2) and 1215). Section 3.2(2) of the act empowers the Board to adopt and from time to time, revise rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of the act. Section 15 of the act authorizes the Board to require continuing education as a condition of biennial renewal.

Sunset Date

   The Board continually monitors the effectiveness of its regulations through communications with the regulated population; accordingly, no sunset date has been set.

Regulatory Review

   Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), the Board submitted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 26 Pa. B. 2819, to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the House Professional Licensure Committee and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for review and comment. In compliance with section 5(b.1) of the Regulatory Review Act, the Board also provided IRRC and the Committees with copies of the comments received, as well as other documentation.

   In preparing this final-form regulation, the Board has considered all comments received from IRRC and the public.

   This final-form regulation was approved by the House Committee on October 22, 1997, and approved by the Senate Committee on October 28, 1997. IRRC met on November 6, 1997, and approved the regulation in accordance with section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act.

Contact Person

   Further information may be obtained by contacting the State Board of Psychology, at P. O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649, (717) 783-7155.


   The Board find that:

   (1)  Public notice of proposed rulemaking was given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder at 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  A public comment period was provided as required by law and all comments were considered.

   (3)  This amendment does not enlarge the purpose of proposed rulemaking published at 26 Pa. B. 2819.

   (4)  This amendment is necessary and appropriate for administration and enforcement of the Board's authorizing statute.


   The Board, acting under its authorizing statute, orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Board, 49 Pa. Code Chapter 41, are amended by amending § 41.59 to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (b)  The Board shall submit this order and Annex A to the Office of General Counsel and to the Office of Attorney General as required by law.

   (c)  The Board shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (d)  This order shall take effect December 1, 1997.


   (Editor's Note:  For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission relating to this document, see 27 Pa. B. 6128 (November 22, 1997).)

   Fiscal Note:  Fiscal Note 16A-632 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.

Annex A






§ 41.59.  Continuing education.

   (a)  Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this section, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

   Biennium--The period from December 1 of an odd-numbered year to November 30 of the next odd-numbered year.

   CEU--Continuing Education Unit--A unit for measuring contact hours of continuing education. One CEU equals 10 contact hours.

   Contact hour--A unit of measure equaling 50 to 60 minutes of participation in an approved continuing education course or program.

   (b)  Continuing education requirement for biennial renewal. As a condition of biennial license renewal, a psychologist shall have completed during the preceding biennium a minimum of 30 contact hours (3 CEUs) of continuing education in acceptable courses, programs or activities which shall include at least 3 contact hours per biennium in ethical issues. Up to 10 contact hours in excess of 30 from the preceding biennium may be carried over from one biennium to the next.

   (c)  Reports to the Board. A psychologist shall certify to compliance with the contact hours requirement at the time of biennial renewal. A psychologist shall retain for at least two bienniums, certificates, transcripts or other documentation showing completion of the prescribed number of contact hours. These records are subject to audit by the Board.

   (d)  Approved sponsors; acceptable courses and programs.

   (1)  Courses and programs approved by Board-approved sponsors will be accepted as satisfying all or part of the continuing education requirement. It is the responsibility of the psychologist to ascertain the approval status of the sponsor before undertaking a continuing education activity.

   (2)  Irrespective of the sponsor, the Board reserves the right to reject a continuing education course/program submitted by a psychologist if it is outside the scope of practice of psychology or is otherwise unacceptable because of presentation or content. The Board will not accept courses/programs which are unrelated to the actual practice of psychology--for example, instruction in office management or practice building. A psychologist will be notified of a rejected course/program in writing, along with the reason for the rejection.

   (3)  The Board has approved the following sponsors:

   (i)  Accredited colleges or universities as long as the course/program corresponds to the scope of practice of psychology and generates semester/quarter hour credit.

   (ii)  The American Psychological Association (APA) and APA-approved sponsors.

   (iii)  Sponsors approved by the American Medical Association who meet the criteria of paragraph (4). Programs offered by these sponsors shall relate to the practice of psychology.

   (4)  The Board will consider for approval, on a biennial basis, National and regional professional associations which offer courses and programs for psychologists, and sponsors approved by these associations. An association seeking Board approval for itself or its sponsors shall submit an application to the Board. The applicant will be notified of approval or disapproval in writing. Notifications of disapproval will set forth reasons. The Board will not approve a sponsor unless it:

   (i)  Offers courses/programs with specific learning objectives.

   (ii)  Has a procedure for determining consumers' perceptions of the extent to which the objectives have been met.

   (5)  The Board may withdraw approval of a sponsor for cause. The sponsor will be notified in writing of the reasons for withdrawal of approval.

   (e)  Home study. A psychologist may accrue up to 15 of the required contact hours in home study courses offered by approved sponsors as long as the course has specific learning objectives and the sponsor evaluates the extent of learning that has taken place.

   (f)  Instruction.

   (1)  A psychologist may accrue up to 15 of the required contact hours by offering one of the following:

   (i)  A course in psychology for a regionally accredited college or university if the course generates semester/quarter hour credit.

   (ii)  A workshop for an approved sponsor.

   (2)  A clock hour of instruction equals 1 contact hour. An individual course or workshop may be credited to the instructor only once every 4 years. The hours of continuing education granted to a psychologist who participates as a workshop instructor will be determined by dividing the number of continuing education hours granted for the workshop by the number of instructors participating in the workshop.

   (g)  Professional writing.

   (1)  A psychologist may accrue the equivalent of up to 10 of the required contact hours by writing one of the following:

   (i)  An article published in a journal abstracted in Psychlit.

   (ii)  A chapter, or more, in a text or trade book for psychologists published by a commercial publisher or a state or National psychological association.

   (2)  No more than 10 contact hour equivalents of professional writing may be granted for one article or chapter published during the preceding biennium. Ten hours per publication, divided by the number of authors, will result in the number of contact hours granted per person per publication.

   (h)  Exemptions and prorations.

   (1)  The Board will exempt from the continuing education requirement a psychologist who received a license within 2 years of the psychologist's first application for biennial renewal.

   (2)  A psychologist who is licensed under § 41.52 (relating to persons licensed in other states) shall comply with the continuing education requirement, but the psychologist's contact hours will be prorated on a quarterly basis from the date of licensure in this Commonwealth to the next biennial renewal date. Each quarter will consist of 3 months. Beginning with the quarter immediately following licensure in this Commonwealth, at least 3.75 contact hours (.375 CEU) shall be earned for each quarter.

   (i)  Reinstatement of licensure. Reinstatement of licensure shall be subject to the following conditions:

   (1)  A person whose license has lapsed or been inactive shall show compliance with the continuing education requirement during the biennium immediately preceding the request for reinstatement.

   (2)  A person whose license has been suspended or restricted shall show compliance with the continuing education requirement during the period of suspension or restriction.

   (j)  Waivers. A psychologist who cannot meet the continuing education requirement may apply to the Board in writing for a waiver. The request shall include a description of circumstances sufficient to show why compliance is impossible. Waiver requests will be evaluated by the Board on a case-by-case basis and will be approved or disapproved at its discretion.

   (k)  Curing deficiencies. A psychologist with a deficiency in contact hours may apply to the Board in writing for leave to make up the contact hours in arrears. The request shall include an explanation of why the deficiency occurred and a plan, along with the estimated time needed, for curing it. Requests will be evaluated by the Board on a case-by-case basis and will be approved or disapproved at its discretion.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 97-2035. Filed for public inspection December 19, 1997, 9:00 a.m.]

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