Supervision of Unlicensed Personnel

Disclaimer: Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice. Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and what may constitute professional misconduct.

  • A licensed podiatrist may receive personal assistance from an unlicensed person where such services are not restricted to licensed professionals.
  • An unlicensed person may not engage in activities that constitute the practice of podiatry at any time.
  • When not under the supervision of the licensed podiatrist, the unlicensed assistant may perform only those functions that any unlicensed person could perform, which may include assisting a patient on or off an examining table, taking patient vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration) and patient history.
  • You may not delegate surgical procedures or ultrasound treatment to an unlicensed person. Delegation could result in a charge of professional misconduct under section 6509(7) of Education Law.
  • You may delegate the taking of x-rays of the foot to an unlicensed person who has completed a course of study approved by the Education Department and who is under your direct supervision.
  • Before delegating a task to an unlicensed person, you should consider several factors, including:
    • Supervision. The tasks you assign to the unlicensed person should be based on instructions you provide in the course of the procedure. You should:
      • Be certain that the task does not require licensure;
      • Remain in the office where the services are being performed;
      • Personally diagnose the condition to be treated;
      • Personally authorize the procedures; and
      • Before dismissing the patient, evaluate the services performed by the unlicensed person.
    • Training. Although tasks may be delegated to an unlicensed person, you must ensure that the person is appropriately trained or authorized to provide the task. For instance, an unlicensed person may take an x-ray of the foot under the supervision of a licensed podiatrist, but the person must have completed training acceptable to the Education Department and should be competent in the use of the radiographic equipment and procedures.
    • Responsibility. You are responsible and accountable for services performed by the unlicensed assistant. You should exercise prudent judgement when assigning tasks. Education Law prohibits a licensed podiatrist from permitting, aiding or abetting an unlicensed individual to perform tasks that require a professional license, even one authorized under Article 141 of Education Law.
    • Pathology. A relatively minor condition in a patient might be complicated by the presence of another condition, such as diabetes. You should carefully consider potential conditions or pathologies when determining whether or not to assign to an unlicensed person what, under other circumstances, might be a simple task.
  • Referring to an unlicensed person by using a title like "podiatric assistant" could create an incorrect assumption by the patient that the unlicensed person is qualified to practice podiatry when, in fact, the individual has not met any particular qualifications.

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Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:

Last Updated: April 16, 2021