Professional Licensing Disciplinary Proceedings in Pennsylvania — What Is the Pennsylvania Board of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA)?

Everyone is bound to follow the law. However, in Pennsylvania, many people have to follow additional rules, laws, and regulations which are not widely known, or they can risk losing their livelihood. This applies to workers and professionals in nearly every trade and occupation you can think of — everyone from doctors, nurses, car dealers, and accountants to massage therapists, crane operators, barbers, and real estate appraisers.

A conviction for a crime that results in no jail time or a minimal fine can have a devastating effect on someone’s ability to earn a living.

The specialized and technical rules applying to professionals are meant to protect the public. However, we all know the old adage “More rules, more rule breakers.” Breaking even a minor rule that you did not even know about can trigger disciplinary proceedings before a licensing board.

This is the first in a series of blogs that will deal with Professional Licensing Disciplinary Proceedings in Pennsylvania. The blogs will provide an understanding of the disciplinary process by giving information about the governmental bodies in charge of the process, and by doing a step by step legal analysis of the process itself.

There are 29 different “licensing boards and commissions” in Pennsylvania and they are all overseen by the Pennsylvania Board of Professional and Occupational Affairs (known as the BPOA). The BPOA is part of the Pennsylvania Department of State. Each of the 29 boards and commissions have their own laws, rules, and regulations which cover everything from education and training requirements to child abuse reporting duties.

The 29 licensing boards and commissions are listed below:

1. Accountancy

2. Architects

3. Auctioneer Examiners

4. Barber Examiners

5. Certified Real Estate Appraisers

6. Chiropractic

7. Cosmetology

8. Crane Operators

9. Dentistry

10. Engineers

11. Funeral Directors

12. Landscape Architects

13. Massage Therapy

14. Medicine

15. Navigation Commission

16. Nursing

17. Nursing Home Administration

18. Occupational Therapy

19. Optometry

20. Osteopathic Medicine

21. Pharmacy

22. Physical Therapy

23. Podiatry

24. Psychology

25. Real Estate Commission

26. Social Work

27. Speech and Hearing

28. Vehicle Board

29. Veterinary Medicine

The BPOA provides lists of the health related professional boards and business related professional boards on its website. If you work in Pennsylvania, chances are that you or someone you know are subject to the rules and regulations issued by one of these licensing boards or commissions.

The boards and commissions include professionals in the fields and members of the public. Members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The BPOA and the boards and commissions oversee the professionals working in their field and also investigate complaints. The BPOA and boards can prosecute professionals and fine, suspend, or otherwise sanction violators based upon criminal convictions, public complaints, or failure to comply with a rule. The BPOA's Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation provides the boards and commissions with investigative and law enforcement capabilities.

Our next blog will begin the step by step legal analysis of the disciplinary process starting with initial contact of a license by the BPOA. In the meantime, if you have questions about an occupational license or professional licensing disciplinary issue, contact one of our experienced lawyers. Don't try to handle a complicated situation without professional help. You can ask our attorneys questions in person, for free, and with no obligation. Call Michael Parkinson, Timothy Tarpey, or James Lloyd at (215) 352-3432.