In this post, we’ll discuss Oregon psilocybin facilitator exam recommendations to date under Measure 109.

Competency exams are common for professions such as therapists, public school teachers and nurses. For instance, every state has a Nurse Practice Act to protect public safety by requiring nurses to pass a certification exam prior to practicing as a nurse. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) develops certification exams for nursing licensure, which is known as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Under the Oregon Nurse Practice Act, one must pass the NCLEX to be licensed as a Registered Nurse. Every three years, the NCSBN conducts “practice analyses” to ensure the exam measures competency according to current nursing standards.

The Licensing Subcommittee is part of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board and meets monthly to develop regulations for the emerging Psilocybin Industry. Public safety is a guiding principle for the Licensing Subcommittee, maintaining that any facilitator who administers psilocybin must use the utmost care. Licensure exams are an effective way to ensure those working with psilocybin have the competence and knowledge to do so safely.

The Subcommittee voted unanimously to require all potential psilocybin service facilitators to pass an exam prior to licensure. The exam will assess competence and psilocybin knowledge. Similarly, the cannabis industry requires safeguards, known as “competency training,” to ensure cannabis providers have a basic understanding of the plant.

A magic mushroom exam

While other industries and professions have similar qualifying exams, these exams likely to do not translate to the novel industry of psilocybin services. Nonetheless, the Subcommittee will seek out similar exams from national accreditation agencies, as well as the Psychedelic Science Funders Collaborative. Further, competency exams such as this can be expensive and time consuming to create. The Subcommittee debated different routes of creating and proctoring the exam, whether it be done by OHA or by a third-party agency.

The exam’s novelty also engenders the question of “content,” or what knowledge will be assessed. The Subcommittee explored current scientific principles, as well as the history of psilocybin in the U.S. and beyond. Thus, questions on the exam will likely be grouped into categories like safety, psilocybin characteristics, human anatomy and physiology, laws related to psilocybin, and psilocybin administration. Within these categories, the questions may cover such topics as psilocybin side effects, facilitator to client ratio, default mode network, psilocybin mechanisms of action, and indigenous use of psilocybin. The Subcommittee will continue to discuss what content is necessary for the licensing exam and what other facilitator exam recommendations will be necessary.

Diverse facilitators

The Subcommittee made recommendations to ensure a broad range of prospective facilitators has access to the exam. For instance, hearing assistance options should be available for examinees, allowing licensure for people with hearing difficulties. Further, some prospective facilitators may live in rural areas, several miles away from a testing center. Thus, the Subcommittee then voted allow the exam to be offered on an online format, which will be proctored. Additionally, the Subcommittee voted to have the exam available in multiple languages.

Future psilocybin practices

As the psilocybin industry develops and evolves, the exam will have to reflect newly accepted practice standards. The Subcommittee discussed exam maintenance such as updating and adapting the exam as new information develops, similar to the NCLEX mentioned above. Input from outside sources and studies will help the Oregon Health Authority thoroughly update the exam. Thus, the Subcommittee voted to allow experts to give input and participate in exam maintenance, and to allow input from the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board and its subcommittees.

Many professions require licensed practitioners engage in ongoing education, such as CLE hours for lawyers, and a yearly recertification process. The Subcommittee agreed to require a similar recertification process after a facilitator passes the exam. This may take the form of taking the exam again or completing a minimum of continued education hours over a two-year period. The Subcommittee favored the continued education option, because it will keep facilitators informed more efficiently than a recurring exam.

Recommendations for the licensing exam are ongoing. Other issues, such as the exam’s length and exam retake intervals, require more discussion and research.

Future Oregon psilocybin Licensing Subcommittee meetings

These decisions are mere recommendations to the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board and are subject to change. The Board will submit its own regulation recommendations to the OHA in June 2022. Over the next several months the Licensing Subcommittee will be finalizing its recommendations for general licensing regulations.

Members of the public are welcome to watch the meetings via zoom and may give comments at the end of each meeting. The next Licensing Subcommittee meeting will be held on February 3, 2022 at 4:00 pm PST. We will be sure to update here on the Psychedelics Law Blog.

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